Kawhi Leonard and the Toronto Raptors defeated Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors in the 2019 NBA Finals.
After only playing nine games during the 2017-18 NBA season with the San Antonio Spurs, Leonard’s first season with the Raptors was a story of redemption. Highlighted by Leonard’s second Finals MVP award, he re-established himself as a top-three player — at the very worst.
While Leonard was focused on the 2018-19 season, all of the attention naturally shifts to his free agency.
Following the Game 6 win over the Warriors, Leonard was asked what is the most satisfying thing he brought to the Raptors and had an interesting response, via ESPN:
“Just making history here, bringing an organization their first championship. It’s just something that the Raptors can build on. Um, that we all can build on. That was my goal. I wanted to get them to the Finals their first year. That was our goal. Obviously, once we got here the next step was to win it all.”
During the 2019 NBA Finals, Leonard was recently asked about his mindset heading into June 30, via ESPN:
“Not now. Obviously, you know what you want, but I’m not thinking like just because of this and this, I’m gonna re-sign. I’m not really thinking about re-signing or what team I’m gonna go to in free agency — none of that. I’m just focused on what’s in front of me right now. Once it’s over, then I’ll revisit everything.”
As most have noticed Leonard saying ‘Raptors’ before stopping himself to say ‘we,’ no one knows what the 27-year-old will do in free agency amid conflicting reports.
Outside of Marc Gasol (player option) and Danny Green, the Raptors core players are signed through the 2019-20 season at the very least. As a result, it would not be surprising if Leonard decided to re-sign with them.
On the other hand, some believe the Raptors winning their first championship means Leonard will not re-sign.
Through all of the conflicting reports, the one constant has been Leonard wanting to play in Los Angeles. While the narrative has shifted from the Los Angeles Lakers to the Los Angeles Clippers, both teams have a max contract available.
As Kevin Durant will miss the entire 2019-20 season, the Western Conference will be wide open for the Lakers.