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Report: Celtics, Sixers opted against trading for Kawhi Leonard because of belief he was signing with Clippers this summer

Kawhi Leonard

The Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers were two teams that had a chance to trade for Kawhi Leonard last summer, yet it was the belief that the former San Antonio Spurs star would head to his hometown of Los Angeles that kept these two Eastern Conference teams from pulling the trigger on a deal and offering more assets for him.

According to ESPN’s Kevin Arnovitz, both teams could have made bigger offers, but the looming uncertainty about his free agency was too much risk for these teams to pawn their future with no assurance of a re-signing.

The informed belief that Leonard had every intention of signing in Los Angeles in 2019 was the determining factor for both the 76ers and Boston Celtics in not accepting more robust proposals by the San Antonio Spurs for Leonard last summer, according to sources with each team who were close to those negotiations.

Instead of the two front-runners for the Eastern Conference crown, it was the Toronto Raptors who swung big and traded longtime mainstay DeMar DeRozan for a year of Kawhi Leonard, an effort that has now been rewarded with the franchise’s first NBA title and a good chance at keeping him.

Raptors resident Masai Ujiri swung for the fences with no indication that Leonard would be willing to re-sign, yet winning a title could be the convincing factor needed to stay. Toronto has grown enamored with The Klaw and has boldly expressed how much it wants Leonard to continue his legacy in The North. Whether he will or not will be discovered in a matter of days.