Report: Kawhi Leonard could sit out next season with Raptors
Following weeks of trade chatter surrounding the San Antonio Spurs regarding All-Star forward Kawhi Leonard, the team finally pulled the trigger on a blockbuster deal with the Toronto Raptors Wednesday morning that netted them All-Star guard DeMar DeRozan in return.
This has pushed forward a possible dilemma for the Raptors with Leonard still strongly holding the desire to play in Los Angeles for either the Lakers or Clippers. Sean Deveney of Sporting News is reporting that the 27-year-old has no desire to play with Toronto and could consider sitting out the entire 2018-19 campaign:
And, league sources told Sporting News, Leonard has no interest in playing for the Raptors. There have been indications that he would sit out the entire season if necessary, and though that step would be drastic and unprecedented in today’s game, Toronto has forced the situation into uncharted territory by acquiring a player who has made it clear he does not want to be there.
This would be a major setback for the Raptors’ plans given the team is hoping they can have the same drastic effect on Leonard that the Oklahoma City Thunder did on All-Star forward Paul George. Prior to last season, it had been widely believed that George would be a one-year rental situation, but the organization made a huge impact on him and convinced him to re-sign this summer.
Toronto has made several big moves offseason after another disappointing postseason, first letting go of head coach Dwane Casey and replacing him with Nick Nurse and now trading for Leonard. It is a risk for the front office considering there is no guarantee that Leonard will change his stance.
If Leonard plays, though, the Raptors will once again be a major threat in an Eastern Conference that doesn’t feature LeBron James anymore, making it a risk worth taking.