As the 2019 NBA Finals are underway, much of the attention has been on Kawhi Leonard’s incredible first season with the Toronto Raptors.
After only playing in nine games during the 2017-18 NBA season with the San Antonio Spurs, Leonard has re-established himself as a top-three player in the league while leading the Raptors to their first NBA Finals appearance.
Known for his quiet personality, Leonard is just three wins away from winning his second championship in three NBA Finals appearances.
When asked how he stays extremely calm during games, Leonard credited Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal, and Michael Jordan, via NBA on ESPN:
“When I watch games from the past… Kobe, Shaq, or Mike — they always didn’t just go nuts. They made big shots and sometimes just pump their fists and walk back to the bench. I just think because I really don’t do it a whole lot like everybody else. But for me, it’s just the way I play. Until we win the game or it’s all done, then I’ll show some emotion. But I want to stay even-keeled while I’m going through it.”
While Leonard mentioned two Los Angeles Lakers legends and grew up in California, it appears he may re-sign with the Raptors on a short-term deal instead of coming home, according to David Thorpe of TrueHoop:
“Of course, he’s about to be a free agent. And because of that, as the media you might expect to hear sunny things about Kawhi’s return from Raptors sources eager to tamp down the impression Kawhi is bound for the Clippers or another team. But even before the Finals began, we at TrueHoop heard from plugged-in sources associated with players and the league — but not the team — that Kawhi would return to Toronto, at least on a short-term deal.”
As Leonard’s uncle shared his nephew is focused on the Golden State Warriors, the Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers are already preparing for their potential free agency meetings with him. While LeBron James reportedly ‘has had’ contact with Leonard, the Clippers looked into Nike’s ‘Klaw’ logo.
Although it is becoming more difficult to see Leonard leaving the Raptors, the one constant throughout all of these reports has been his desire to play in Los Angeles. Luckily for the Lakers, they will find out soon enough.