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Ramona Shelburne still thinks Kawhi Leonard will join Clippers or Lakers

Kawhi Leonard, Clippers, Lakers, Raptors

Kawhi Leonard and the Toronto Raptors are just three wins away from winning the 2019 NBA Championship. Teams like the L.A. Clippers and Los Angeles Lakers, who hope to be big players in free agency, continue to nervously watch as the Raptors inch ever so close to the franchise’s first title.

After their Game 1 win against the Golden State Warriors, with both Leonard and Kyle Lowry playing below average, Toronto is in great position to take a 2-0 lead with Kevin Durant already ruled out.

Ramona Shelburne, who is currently in Toronto covering the NBA Finals, joined the ESPN radio in Los Angeles to talk about the surprise Game 1 and was asked whether she thinks the winner of the Finals will have an impact on free agency.

“If the Raptors win this, it’ll be hard for Kawhi to leave,” said Shelburne. “I still think he does, I know there’s like this flickering hope that he would stay regardless because he does enjoy Canada.

“I just think the guy has been pretty clear. He wants to be back home in California. he has a house there which he has wanted the whole time. He wanted that before anything went south with the Spurs. This is a pretty consistent desire. It’s not like Paul George, where like Paul George, he’s from Palmdale but he likes fishing and that kind of a lifestyle. That’s very Oklahoma.”

As far as Kawhi Leonard’s intentions go, one thing that has remained consistent is his reported desire to return home. Back in January, it was reported by the L.A. Times that the star forward purchased a seven bedroom, five-acre, home in Rancho Santa Fe for $13.3 million.

The home sits 30 minutes north of the heart of San Diego and approximately two hours away from downtown L.A. A number of players purchase homes away to live in during the NBA offseason away from their current team, but one would think a purchase that grand doesn’t happen if he were planning to stay long-term over 2,500 miles away in Toronto.

Still, it’s hard to envision any star player walking away from the team he just led to a Finals appearance, let alone an NBA Championship. The fans in the North are terrific and among the best in the league.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, appearing on a live stream special ahead of Game 1, said he doesn’t think winning, losing, or money will have a significant impact on what each player decides to do in free agency.

“I think he’s going to make a decision based on where he wants to live, where he wants to play,” said Wojnarowski. “I don’t know that winning or losing impacts what Kevin Durant does, and even with Kawhi Leonard. Both players could make $200 million plus by staying where they are. They’re going to have to take less money to go somewhere else… I don’t know if money is going to be a factor for either of them.”

Free agency begins in exactly 30 days, and there’s a lot of basketball left to be played. Game 2 of the NBA Finals is Sunday night at 8PM EST.