After only playing in nine games during the 2017-18 NBA season, Kawhi Leonard is reminding basketball fans why he is a top-five player in the game today.
Following a strong regular season, Leonard has taken his game to another level during the 2019 NBA playoffs. Through nine games against the Orlando Magic and Philadelphia 76ers, he is averaging 32.3 points (58.7% shooting from the field), 7.8 rebounds, and 3.4 assists in 36.7 minutes.
While the 27-year-old is focused on the present, teams like the Los Angeles Lakers are hoping he is just a one-year rental for the Raptors.
Although the Lakers can offer Leonard a max contract, it appears his decision will likely come down to the Raptors or Los Angeles Clippers, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (H/T John Ledesma of Twitter):
“I think there’s where his focus is going to be heading into July: staying in Toronto or going back to California with the Clippers.”
Wojnarowski later double-downed on it being a two-team race for Leonard come July 1:
“But I think by the time you get to July 1, typically players have a really strong idea about where they’re gonna go and usually their eyes are not getting opened in a one, two-hour meeting with a team that they haven’t given great consideration to. I think this is Clippers and Raptors. Of course, the Raptors can pay him more…”
After the San Antonio Spurs traded Leonard to the Raptors, there have been conflicting reports about the Lakers and Clippers. However, what has remained constant throughout the 2018-19 season is Leonard’s desire to play in Los Angeles.
With the Lakers having a lottery pick and cap space, they can significantly improve the roster around James. While Plan A remains landing a second All-Star player, these free agents reportedly have the Lakers second or third on their lists.