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SportsFive Big Questions Surrounding Kawhi Leonard's NBA Free Agency

16:55  25 june  2019
16:55  25 june  2019 Source:   si.com

Did Kawhi Leonard tip hand about leaving Raptors in free agency?

Did Kawhi Leonard tip hand about leaving Raptors in free agency? The way Kawhi Leonard phrased an answer during an interview with ESPN’s Scott Van Pelt after winning the NBA championship on Thursday night has some wondering whether he tipped his hand about his free agency plans. 

Is Kevin Durant looking for something new? Does he prefer to re-launch the Warriors dynasty? The Crossover answers these questions and more ahead of KD' s free - agency decision.

Five Big Questions Surrounding Kevin Durant' s NBA Free Agency . Is Kevin Durant ready to start a new chapter? The answer to this question flipped the NBA on its axis three summers ago, adding one of the greatest scorers in league history to a 73-win squad.

It would certainly be unprecedented for the Finals MVP to leave his current team less than a month after hoisting the Larry O’Brien trophy, but we’ve long known Kawhi Leonard is a different dude. Toronto’s resident ‘fun guy’ is nearly impossible to get a read on, light on words and even lighter on expression. It wouldn’t be a surprise for Masai Ujiri to have no idea where Leonard is headed. The tea leaves are meaningless to read. Don’t expect a glossy magazine piece or heartfelt essay from Leonard. If he bolts from Toronto, the message will be clear from both sides: Thanks for the memories.

Kawhi Leonard is drinking alcohol and eating desserts after winning title

Kawhi Leonard is drinking alcohol and eating desserts after winning title Kawhi Leonard is drinking alcohol and eating desserts after winning title

The Crossover answers these questions and more ahead of KD' s free - agency decision. Is Kevin Durant ready to start a new chapter? The answer to this question flipped the NBA on its The Lakers’ pipe dream will never come to fruition, and the Clippers buzz revolves largely around Kawhi Leonard .

Is Kevin Durant looking for something new? Does he prefer to re-launch the Warriors dynasty? The Crossover answers these questions and more ahead of KD' s free - agency decision.

While we’d be a fool to parse Leonard’s actions for free agency clues, we can set the terms of debate for his next move. There are a number of free questions that loom over Leonard’s free agency, the answers to which could sway the decision for the league’s preeminent free agent. With less than a week remaining until Leonard’s free agency, we at The Crossover identified five key factors that could swing the NBA’s balance of power for years to come.

Can We Trust Toronto’s Future?

Leonard’s return to Toronto would secure the Raptors’ spot atop the top contenders for the 2020 title, though are we convinced their championship window will stay open much longer? Toronto is in no position to create a superteam, and a large share of the team’s core is trending toward their late 30s. Leonard could run the risk of spending his prime with a creak supporting cast as Milwaukee and Philadelphia ride their youngsters to the conference crown. Leonard may be the King in the North forever. His time as King of the NBA may be far shorter.

Knicks seen as a viable landing spot for Kawhi Leonard

Knicks seen as a viable landing spot for Kawhi Leonard Rumors surrounding the potential landing spot for reigning NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard will not die down ahead of free agency next month. What we do know is that most around the Association believe that it’s between Leonard’s current Toronto Raptors team and his hometown Los Angeles Clippers. Even then, the New York Knicks continue to pop up as a potential destination. Despite struggles over the past several years and a talent-stricken roster, the lure of New York City seems to be there for Leonard. According to Ian Begley of SNY, that’s as true now as it ever was.

We at The Crossover broke down the five big questions of Kevin Durant’ s free agency , the answers of which will shape The NBA ’ s largest elephant in the room rests only inches above Kevin Durant’ s right foot. It’ s a testament to his historic skill that there is little conversation surrounding the economic

Nobody knows if Kawhi Leonard , the man who won Finals MVP, will return to the Toronto Raptors as a free agent . Golden State Warriors stars Kevin (There is an interesting sub- question here: How long will Leonard ' s next contract be? One might assume that he would sign the longest deal possible

Toronto will face a turning point next summer. Kyle Lowry and Serge Ibaka both come off the books, as does Marc Gasol assuming he opts into $25 million with Toronto. It’s possible Gasol opts out and constructs a multi-year deal to stick with the champs. Yet there’s minimal chance he enters the free agent market. Gasol’s best bet is still the opt-in, giving the Raptors a third expensive contract expiring in 2020.

Such a clean timeline provides a strong outlook into the next decade. Even if Toronto retains Leonard, it’s not beholden to an older core for long. The Raptors could chase the 2020 title with Lowry, Gasol and Ibaka, then pivot in July with Leonard, Siakam and sizable cap space. The Raptors’ future is murky. Their flexibility remains a key asset in constructing a winner into the late years of a potential long-term deal with Leonard.

Are there Alternative Contract Options?

We’ve covered Leonard’s options if he stays in Toronto long-term, but is the full five-year max a given? We’ve seen both LeBron James and Kevin Durant sign short deals, keeping free agency close in case their respective situations go south. Leonard could take a similar route.

Petition asking Kawhi Leonard to stay reaches 20 per cent of its goal in one day

Petition asking Kawhi Leonard to stay reaches 20 per cent of its goal in one day It’s only been a day since a petition asking Kawhi Leonard to stay with the Raptors was launched and it had already reached 20 per cent of its goal. As of Sunday, the petition has amassed more than 20,000 signatures out of its goal of 100,000. The campaign was announced on Saturday by Mayor John Tory alongside Raptors superfan Nav Bhatia and Paramount Fine Foods CEO Mohamad Fakih. Danny Green, who joined the team last July from the San Antonio Spurs alongside Leonard, is also entering free agency this month. Green said at an event on Saturday that he believes there’s a “higher percentage” that Leonard would continue with the Raptors.

2018 NBA Free Agency . Chris Smoove. Загрузка Throwback: Kawhi Leonard Full Series Highlights vs Miami Heat (2014 NBA Finals) - Finals MVP!

Leonard has done an admirable job deflecting his free agency questions in the wake of the Finals and the few reports that have leaked out (Woj) have been mostly discredited by other members of Aside from Kawhi Leonard , the Lakers have been linked to almost every big free agent name on the market.

Such a move might prove prudent from a winning standpoint. Toronto can strike when the iron is hot in 2019-20 with Golden State potentially out of the picture and Leonard can sign a one year deal with an additional option. New York might loom Durant’s rehab year in New York, or Leonard could finally bolt to the Clippers if their haul of assets nets another big name. Leonard keeping his options open will maximize his championship window.

Suggesting a one-and-one deal requires a short memory, though. It was just 11 months ago when Leonard joined the Raptors following a nine-game season in San Antonio. Leonard landed on Zaza Pachulia’s foot one year prior and missed the rest of the 2017 Western Conference finals. Durant’s ruptured Achilles could very well spook free agent classes for years to come. Considering Leonard’s injury history, it’s hard to imagine him signing a short term deal in Toronto or any other location.

Five Big Questions Surrounding Kawhi Leonard's NBA Free Agency© Provided by TIME Inc. Ron Turenne/NBAE via Getty Images

How Big is the Finals Factor?

Toronto of course earns some points with Leonard for, well, winning the damn Finals, but just how much will the June memories sway Kawhi’s decision? The Raptor’s love for one another after winning the title was undeniable; there was no smile and wave for the cameras. Kawhi pulled off an extended standup comedy routine by his standards while tipsy Marc Gasol was an undeniable delight. Saying goodbye under such circumstances has little historical precedent outside of retirements. Would Leonard’s decision be different had the Raptors lost Game 3 and Game 4 to the Bucks? The current reality can only help Toronto’s pitch.

Kawhi Leonard free agency rumors: Multiple teams interested in pairing star with Jimmy Butler

Kawhi Leonard free agency rumors: Multiple teams interested in pairing star with Jimmy Butler Multiple teams are exploring signing both stars this summer, according to a report from SNY.

1. How badly does Kawhi Leonard want to be a Laker? On Wednesday afternoon there was an ESPN report indicating that "pressure is mounting" on the Lakers to make a deal for Kawhi Leonard before Friday, when LeBron will Buyer Beware: Think Twice Before Signing These Five NBA Free Agents .

Kawhi Leonard , coming off an NBA championship with the Toronto Raptors, is scheduled to reach free agency when the official negotiating period begins next Sunday. Now, a new report says that Leonard may be considering staying put. Yahoo Sports reported on Sunday that Leonard , in an expected

Can Jerry West Conjure Some Magic?

The Clippers didn’t have to have the horses to compete with their Staples Center partners in the Anthony Davis sweepstakes, especially considering the pick haul surrendered by Rob Pelinka. But there may be some appealing trade options left. The Clippers’ current core is an exciting group. As currently constructed, though, it may fall short of title contention, even with Leonard. One more trade could help alter his free agent decision.

Who remains on the market for Los Angeles? The only obvious trade option is Bradley Beal. There’s skepticism Washington will part with the two-time All-Star and Ted Leonsis favorite, but if he is in fact available, Los Angeles can provide an intriguing package including Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.

Things aren’t much clearer on the free agency front. Tobias Harris was traded away from the Clippers already and Khris Middleton is a more likely fit to run it back with the Bucks. DeMarcus Cousins isn’t the answer and there is little Kyrie Irving buzz. Maybe a mystery free agent arises (Kemba Walker?) to add a dose of All-Star talent next to Leonard. West and Co. will do their due diligence. Regardless, Leonard doesn’t seem to be in the recruiting game like the Irvings of the world. He could come to the Clippers as he entered Toronto: A one-man wrecking crew eyeing the Finals.

Los Angeles or Bust?

Leonard’s foray north was originally identified as a hard rental last July. With one year remaining on his contract, Leonard was expected to thaw out as soon as possible after a short stint in Toronto, allowing Ujiri and Co. to hit a hard reset button as the franchise moves to the next decade. Will a title change the calculus, or does the sunshine of Los Angeles prove too alluring? The pull of home can superseed a championship. Perhaps it could be Leonard’s deciding factor. If the sunshine is calling, what is Ujiri to do?

Magic says he has spoken with Kawhi, uncle.
Former Los Angeles Lakers president Magic Johnson told the L.A. Times' Brad Turner that he spoke to Kawhi Leonard and his uncle, Dennis Robertson, Sunday after being contacted by Leonard's group. Such a conversation may not violate the terms of free agency because Johnson is no longer employed by the Lakers. Johnson said no meeting has been set between himself and Leonard, according to Turner. Leonard, an L.A. native, is expected to take a meeting with the Lakers after free agency officially commences Sunday evening. On Friday, Johnson - who abruptly resigned as Lakers president in April - said he planned on helping his old team recruit free agents such as Leonard.

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