Giannis Antetokounmpo was hoping Kawhi Leonard would stay with the Raptors
In an interview with ESPN, the 24-year-old Antetokounmpo expressed a desire to play Leonard and the Raptors again in a seven-game series. Giannis and the Milwaukee Bucks fell to the Raptors in six games in the Eastern Conference Finals during the 2019 playoffs.
“For me personally, I would love for Kawhi to stay in the East and stay in Toronto because I would love to go through the series [with them] again,” Antetokounmpo said. “But unfortunately, this is the NBA we are talking about. Moves happen. People change teams. But we got an opportunity right now. We got to take advantage of it, and hopefully we can seize the opportunity and make big things happen.”
Kawhi Leonard signed with the Los Angeles Clippers in free agency this summer, joining All-Star Paul George in LA as the former Most Improved Player was traded from the Oklahoma City Thunder. The other Los Angeles team, the Lakers, also traded for Anthony Davis, joining LeBron James in purple and gold alongside recent acquisitions big man DeMarcus Cousins and shooting guard Danny Green, Leonard’s former teammate in Toronto.
The Raptors acquired Kawhi Leonard last summer in a blockbuster deal, which saw Toronto ship long-time franchise player DeMar DeRozan to the San Antonio Spurs. The move paid off, though, with the Raptors winning their first title in franchise history, led by Kawhi in spite of his departure to the west.
Giannis characterized the moves as “insane” in his interview but he called out Leonard’s signing with LA as disappointing due to the 6-foot-11 forward’s desire to rematch with the team that knocked Milwaukee out of the playoffs.