The Lakers have made it clear that they want to pair the newly-signed James with at least one other superstar in order to make a run at the Golden State Warriors. That would take both sides down an unprecedented, spiraling road, including fines and a potential legal battle, but as ESPN's Chris Haynes reported, Leonard has no desire to play in Toronto.
The Raptors have never had a player quite like Kawhi Leonard before, assuming they have him now at all. Even though Leonard's people are posturing as though they're going to Los Angeles, the same was more or less true of Paul George last season after being traded to Oklahoma City.
The trade is a very risky play by Raptors general manager Masai Ujiri given that Leonard could become just an expensive one-season rental. DeRozan will nearly certainly give San Antonio more next year than Leonard gave the Spurs last year.
GETTYKawhi Leonard's move to Toronto is likely to be just a rental for the Raptors
After weeks of speculation that tied the Lakers to the two-time All-Star, that largely subsided as the 2018 NBA Draft came and went and free agency began. This marks the second major move of the off-season for the Raptors as Toronto fired Coach of the Year Dwane Casey. Nashville Predators star P.K. Subban, who knows a thing or two about being traded after his controversial trade from the Montreal Canadiens in 2016, thanked DeRozan for everything he's done and also welcomed Leonard to the six.
In 407 games with the Spurs, Leonard averaged 16.3 points, 6.2 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game. That has reportedly been Los Angeles, although in Las Vegas I heard rumors from sources that both the Lakers and Clippers are in play to land him. Despite a players-only meeting where he was asked by teammates to return to the lineup, he sat out the rest of the season.
As you'd expect, Coach Pop was optimistic and honest during the 25-minute press conference - well, as honest as he could be, considering his relationship with Leonard wasn't always the best.
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Yes. There is another National Basketball Association rule that could come into play if Leonard elects to voluntarily sit out next season.
PLAYED THROUGH TRAGEDY - Leonard was a junior at Martin Luther King High School in the Riverside neighbourhood of Los Angeles when his father was fatally shot at the auto wash he owned in Compton on January 18, 2008.
The Raptors are rolling the dice Leonard is healthy and willing to re-sign to stay in Toronto beyond this season.
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"Kawhi conducted himself wonderfully while he was here", Popovich said.
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