As the NBA prepares for what may be one of the most important summers in recent memory, one decision that multiple teams are patiently waiting on is that of Kawhi Leonard.
More specifically, the Los Angeles Clippers and the Toronto Raptors will be in a tense battle for Leonard’s services.
The Los Angeles Lakers may also be in the conversation as LeBron James reportedly spoke with Leonard about the possibility, but it does seem like a two-team race for now. And with the Raptors just one win away from shocking the Golden State Warriors in the 2019 NBA Finals, the picture starts to get even clearer.
Because of this, the Clippers — who have been open about their pursuit of Leonard — may have already begun preparing back-up options. This is because they and the rest of the league knows it may be very difficult to turn down a team that Leonard just won a championship with, according to Joe Vardon of The Athletic:
“The team most associated with Leonard as far as a landing spot in free agency are the Clippers. Their confidence in Leonard picking them in a few weeks has been reportedly high for much of the year. But, league sources said over the last few days, the Clippers are seeing what we’re seeing — Leonard leading the team for which he currently plays to the brink of its first title. The Clippers, those sources said, feel confident Leonard will answer the phone when they call on June 30, but beyond that there is no way to know what impact Leonard’s Finals run will have. Those sources said the Clippers spend most of their time in meetings preparing for scenarios in which he doesn’t come to L.A.”
If the Clippers do strike out on Leonard, it has been reported that Kevin Durant may seriously consider the Clippers should he not want to team up with Kyrie Irving on the Brooklyn Nets. Of course, all of this is deep speculation, but that’s sort of what the month of June is for.
There’s a chance that Leonard has already made up his mind one way or the other and that winning a championship will do nothing to change that. There’s also a chance that the result of Games 5-7 (if necessary) is the only determining factor for Leonard.
No matter what the case is, the next few weeks will likely be filled with a ton of intrigue and conflicting reports. The good news is that by the middle of July, all of these questions will be answered.