Kawhi Leonard is going to ruin your 4th of July. Or make it, depending on who you root for. Book it right now.
The Toronto Raptors superstar has reportedly not met with any teams as free agency opened late on Sunday, and he is preparing to take his time to decide between the Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Clippers, and Raptors.
It’s not like Leonard hasn’t had a chance to think about where he might play basketball for the past two years. What’s another 72-96 hours?
Still, there’s no impetus for Leonard to sign right now. He’s not required to do so, and the teams looking to add him to their roster will forego any other decisions until he picks a destination.
We’ve seen this happen before. Gordon Hayward waited until everyone in the collective NBA culturesphere was already six Whiteclaws deep on their uncle’s boat to announce via a Players’ Tribune article he was going to the Boston Celtics.
Leonard — because he is an enigma, wrapped in a mystery, shrouded by cornrows — will inevitably do the same. I can feel it in my bones.
Meanwhile, the prospects for who Leonard will play with has shrunk. The Clippers won’t have many options to add next to Leonard, with both Jimmy Butler and Al Horford finding new destinations in the Miami Heat and Philadelphia 76ers, respectively.
Leonard’s only other chance to play with mega stars is by joining the Lakers, who have LeBron James and Anthony Davis. That doesn’t feel like the route he’s wanted to go, particularly given how much he seemed to enjoy being the top dog with the Raptors this year.
He would still get the cachet of living in Southern California by joining the Clippers, but have a similar structure as he has with the Raptors right now. L.A. has an excellent front office in place, and he should have real confidence in them building something around him for years to come.
Of course, Leonard could have dragged this whole thing out simply to return to Toronto, which Raptors fans would love. That’s a smart choice at this point given how they, you know, won the NBA Finals this year. But the Raptors will have a hard time staying together over Leonard’s next contract, and that team is getting older.
We still don’t know what Leonard will do even though Sunday was a flurry of activity with big name stars getting huge, max deals. We are once again sitting here on our thumbs, waiting for Leonard to make a decision so we can, finally, mercifully, stop talking about which team he plays for.
All I want to do on the Fourth of July is scarf a bratwurst and eat an amount of potato salad my cardiologist considers “alarming” but I’m going to assume Leonard makes his announcement in a few days when he can be the brightest firework of all.
Looks like we’re going to have to just hang tight until the Board Man decides where he gets paid.