The Toronto Raptors are NBA Champions for the first time in franchise history, and the first NBA team outside the US to be called champions. The Raptors beat the Warriors in six games, a series that posed a lot of questions in regards to injuries, morale, and of course free agency. Before the series even started, it was about how Kevin Durant and Kawhi Leonard will face off in the finals, and how both of them could be leaving to go to other teams. However, that changed when Kevin Durant ruptured his achilles in game 5, meaning he will most likely be out for most if not all of next season. It is probable that he will exercise his player option for next season and return to the Warriors.
Rumors of where Kawhi Leonard will play in 2020 has been going around since he demanded a trade from San Antonio last season. It was said that he wanted to come home to Los Angeles to play for the Lakers(where have we heard that before?), and that he would sign long term after the 2019 season was up. San Antonio, however, had other plans and sent him and Danny Green to Toronto for DeMar DeRozan and Jakob Poeltl with a 1st round pick. This move was seen as a gamble on the Raptors side. Trade away your franchise player for a solid three and D player, and a superstar who might not even come back next season. Raptors GM Masai Ujiri’s gamble paid off as the Raptors beat the Warriors in six games, but just because the Raptors won it all doesn’t mean that Kawhi Leonard will stay in the Six.
This morning on ESPN’s GetUP, NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski said ” Kawhi is focused on Los Angeles, but it is the Clippers not the Lakers… This will be a Raptors-Clippers fight for Kawhi Leonard.”
The Lakers just recently acquired Anthony Davis in a trade with the Pelicans. Leonard would be a second or third man to LeBron, if he was to sign, and Leonard wants his own team. The Lakers also do not have the cap space to sign a huge free agent like Kawhi Leonard, so they might as well just build pieces around Anthony Davis and Lebron James.
The Clippers have two max spots available, one of which they were going to use to lure Leonard back home. The Clippers are coming off an impressive and improbable season that saw them grab the eighth seed in the Westand take the defending Champion Warriors to six games, winning two games of that series in Oakland. The Clippers have good young pieces like Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Landry Shamet, and Montrez Harrell, as well as, vets like Lou Williams and Danilo Gallinari. It also helps when you have a great coach in Doc Rivers who compared Kawhi to the likes of Michael Jordan. Even if they only get Kawhi Leonard, they will have an abundance of money to get solid free agents to go around him. The Clippers are the best destination for Kawhi outside of Toronto.
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