Report: Raptors increasingly confident about re-signing Kawhi Leonard

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The Clippers have been presumed frontrunner all year to sign Kawhi Leonard this summer. The Lakers are hovering, though there are indications Leonard doesn’t want to play with LeBron James.

What about Leonard’s current team?

Josh Lewenberg of TSN:

Behind the scenes, many Toronto Raptors officials have become increasingly confident in the team’s chances of re-signing Kawhi Leonard this summer, sources tell TSN.

They should be.

But there’s also a huge difference between increasingly confident and actually confident.

When Leonard arrived in Toronto, he explained how the Raptors could keep him – win. They have. They’re 51-23, the NBA’s second-best record. They have also been extremely accommodating in sitting Leonard to preserve his health. A strong supporting cast led by Kyle Lowry and Pascal Siakam has allowed Leonard to rest without sabotaging his team’s competitiveness. It’s the best of both worlds.

Of course, the biggest test still looms. Leonard, a former NBA Finals MVP, won’t judge Toronto by only regular-season success. The Raptors’ playoff run will be far more important, both because of the significance of postseason games and them being the last taste in his mouth before free agency.

So many factors of Leonard’s decision are already set. The Los Angeles teams are closer to home for the California native. There’s nicer weather there than Toronto. The Raptors can offer more money, a projected extra $6 million over the next four years plus a fifth year worth $43 million. Toronto also offers the comfort of a known work environment.

But this was likely always going to come down to the playoffs. No matter how well the Raptors have positioned themselves so far, that monumental opportunity to influence Leonard – in either direction – awaits.