Kawhi Leonard has been the talk of the NBA offseason with the San Antonio Spurs gauging trade interest around the league in the star small forward. After unrest between Leonard and the Spurs came out in the media, rumors flew about potential landing spots. Los Angeles and Philadelphia have been the two most talked about teams as potential landing spots, but there is another team working their way to the forefront.
According to a report from Brian Windhorst of ESPN, the Toronto Raptors might be the front-runners to acquire Leonard from the Spurs at this point in time.
“I think they’re in the driver’s seat for Kawhi because I think the Lakers have given up. The Sixers have given up. And with the Nets, Bulls and Hawks spending their cap space, it makes it harder to assemble a multi-team trade. I think the Raptors are in the driver’s seat.”
Last season was a disaster for Leonard in San Antonio. He missed almost the entire season due to a nagging injury, although the Spurs felt like he was able to play and decided not to.
In the nine games that he played for the Spurs last season, Leonard ended up averaging 16.2 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 1.2 assists per game. He shot 46.8 percent from the floor overall and knocked down 31.4 percent of his three-point attempts. Obviously, Leonard was not at 100 percent, but the drama between him and the Spurs seemed off from the start.
At 27-years-old, Leonard will hit NBA free agency next offseason. That could deter some teams from giving up the massive return that the Spurs have been asking for in trade talks. Toronto might not allow that to turn them off.
Rumors have come up surrounding the Raptors throughout the offseason with names like DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry being talked about as potential trade pieces.
Toronto would be an extremely intriguing landing spot for Leonard. If the Raptors included one of their two stars in the deal, it would make a solid pairing either way. Leonard and either DeRozan or Lowry would offer major scoring, while Lowry is also a capable floor general.
It will be interesting to see what ends up happening with Leonard and the Spurs. They have not been interested in lowering their asking price just yet, but Leonard has been adamant about his desire to be traded. More than likely, a trade will occur ahead of the regular season.
Expect to hear more rumors about Leonard in the coming days. Toronto isn’t the only team interested in trading for him, but right now they appear to be in the driver’s seat in trade discussions.