Fred VanVleet says wining title was best recruiting pitch Raptors could give Kawhi Leonard
Newly-crowned NBA champion Fred VanVleet argued there is nothing else the Toronto Raptors organization can do to convince Kawhi Leonard to make “The Six” his new long-term home after spending his previous seven seasons in San Antonio.
The Raptors bested the Golden State Warriors in six games and brought the team’s first championship since being founded in 1995 — the best potential case a team can make for a star player to stay.
“I think for us, there is nothing more that we can do. We’ve done it. The city has done it. This franchise had done it. The coaches have done it. My teammates have done it. We’ve done our job. The best way to recruit somebody is to just be yourself over the course of the year, and I would assume that he knows what is here and what makes this place special,” VanVleet said at the team’s first media availability since winning the NBA title, according to ESPN. “If it’s enough than it’s enough. If it’s not then it’s not. … We would all love for him to be back and if he’s not then we will move on from there. It’s not the biggest deal in the world. He came here and did what he was supposed to do. So he brought this city a championship and I think he has earned his freedom and his career to do what he wants to do and we’ll all respect him and admire him.”
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that even though the Raptors came away with their first-ever title, they still have work to do until June 30 to convince their star to stay.
Earlier reports in the season characterized Leonard as “hellbent” in returning to his native Southern California, as the L.A. Clippers’ near-two max slots have driven a hard bargain ahead of this summer’s avalanche of free agent moves.