Kawhi Leonard plans to go into this upcoming season with the Toronto Raptors with an open mind, giving it every single shot in the world to make it work, according to Jabari Young of the San Antonio Express-News.
Leonard will be an unrestricted free agent after the 2018-19 season ends and many believe he has his heart set on joining the Los Angeles Lakers or Clippers.
The Raptors can offer Leonard almost $50 million more than any other team in 2019, including a fifth year.
“Based off of me talking to people within his circle, they’re going to go into this thing with an open mind and give this thing every last opportunity to work,” Young said on the TSN OverDrive podcast. “And at the end of the day, if that’s the case, then it would be great if he stays. Obviously, I think part of his mind, yes, let’s keep real: I think he still feels like L.A. might be the destination. At the same time, he plans to go into this thing with an open mind, giving it every single shot in the world to make it work.”
It’s important to note that Young, a well-respected columnist, covered Leonard in San Antonio. The two have maintained a professional relationship and Leonard has always been fond of him.
Since the trade between Toronto and the San Antonio Spurs became official, the Raptors have had conversations with Leonard and his camp and talks have been very positive. Raptors head coach Nick Nurse sat down with Leonard in July and said the meeting “was really enjoyable.”
Nurse and Leonard had never met prior to their chat. The conversation lasted around 45 minutes and Nurse says Leonard was very impressive.
With LeBron James in the Western Conference now, the East is wide-open and Leonard and the Raptors have a great shot at making it to the NBA Finals. Toronto had the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference last season and is essentially replacing DeMar DeRozan with Leonard.
Leonard has career averages of 16.3 points, 6.2 rebounds and 2.3 assists in 407 games. He has won Defensive Player of the Year two times and was the 2013-14 Finals MVP.