Well, the Kawhi book is finally closed. Actually, not really, we’ll start talking about where he’ll end up in free-agency in just a few months. Will he stay with the Raptors? Will he go to LA to play with LeBron? Or maybe he’ll end up going to Los Angeles but instead of being a Laker, maybe he’ll be a Clipper. Who really knows with this guy.
Today the Raptors and Spurs agreed to a trade that sent Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green up north to Toronto and San Antonio picked up DeMar DeRozan, Jakob Poeltl and a protected first round pick. This was a bold strategy for the Raptors because after this upcoming season, Kawhi is a free-agent. He has made it clear that he wants to be in LA but there have been statements, made by reporters, that he would be happy with either team in Los Angeles. That’s based purely on speculation, there hasn’t been an official statement made by Kawhi himself. I think that’s preposterous because of how storied of a franchise the Lakers are. I think that Leonard wants to play for the Lakers more than the Clippers, however, he IS the weirdest guy EVER, so maybe he would be.
First things first… Kawhi IS NOT Paul George, he won’t be persuaded by the Raptors to stay with Toronto as Paul was persuaded to stay with the Thunder. I REPEAT. HE WILL NOT SIGN A LONG TERM CONTRACT WITH THE RAPTORS. That doesn’t mean that Toronto lost this trade, though. They still have options and it’s not like they had to give up Drake to get Leonard. All they had to do was give up DeMar DeRozan and he was about as useful as a poopy flavored lollipop in the playoffs so not a huge loss. Don’t get me wrong, DeMar is a great player but wasn’t cutting it in Toronto. They needed a change. It was actually a good pick-up for the Spurs, they had almost no trade leverage because of the impossible spot that Kawhi put them in and if there’s one person that can bring out the best in a player, it’s Pop. The Spurs did what they had to do and got the most they could possibly get. Toronto was in a similar spot as San Antonio, they needed to make a move. Trading for a one-year rental on the off chance that he will stay in the furthest place, climate wise, from LA was the chance Toronto was willing to take. Not the route I would’ve taken, but I’m not a GM. Before I kick the knees of the Raptors decision, maybe they they’re smarter than we think. Maybe, they thought DeMar wasn’t the guy that was capable of leading them to a championship, so they were okay with getting rid of him. Maybe they don’t intend on signing Kawhi to a long term deal after this upcoming season, but instead they intend to use him as trade bait and let the Clippers and Lakers bid it out for him. If that IS the case, which is impossible to predict right now, it could be a great move by them… By trading Kawhi mid-season next year, when they are eligible to do so, they could score players and future picks from one of the LA teams and that could set them up nicely for years to come. Possibly.
I’m going to stick to what I said earlier in this piece, and say that I think that Kawhi wants to be a Laker more than he wants to be a Clipper. That is based on history alone, the Lakers are simply the more desirable landing spot. So I would warn the Clippers that if that opportunity does present itself, to trade for Kawhi, be very hesitant to give up a ton of assets for him. That guy is capable of anything and it could backfire if Leonard decides to sign with the Lakers anyways. The Clippers may never recover as a franchise if that were to happen.
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