When they acquired Kawhi Leonard from the San Antonio Spurs last summer, Toronto Raptors President Masai Ujiri expressed strong confidence that they could bring him back when he becomes an unrestricted free agent next July. However, since the 2018 NBA offseason, rumors and speculations continue to swirl that Leonard will be leaving the Raptors to play for one of his hometown teams. With the presence of LeBron James on the Lakers, there’s a growing belief that the Clippers are more likely to be Leonard’s next landing spot in the 2019 NBA free agency.
Instead of losing him without getting anything in return, Dan Favale of Bleacher Report recommends that the Raptors may consider convincing the Clippers to engage in a sign-and-trade deal next summer. If he’s really interested in joining the Clippers, they could just hand him a contract once the calendar turns into the month of July. However, by engaging in a sign-and-trade deal, the Clippers will still have enough salary cap space to chase the likes of Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant, Kemba Walker, Jimmy Butler, Klay Thompson, and DeMarcus Cousins next summer.
In the proposed trade deal by Bleacher Report, the Clippers will be sending Danilo Gallinari and a 2019 first-round pick to the Raptors in exchange for Kawhi Leonard. Gallinari and Leonard perfectly match each other’s salary, but since “The Claw” is a much better player, the Clippers will be needing to add a future first-round pick as a sweetener. If the deal becomes a reality, it will not only benefit the Clippers but also the Raptors.
“The Raptors’ willingness to sign and trade Leonard is up in the air, but the parameters of this deal fit their future. They needn’t start over if he leaves. They’ll still have Kyle Lowry and Marc Gasol (assuming he exercises his $25.6 million player option), and Pascal Siakam is that good. Like Lowry and Gasol, Gallinari comes off the ledger next summer. The Raptors can try running it back with the three of them and Siakam, then re-assess the big picture during the 2020 offseason.”
— CTV Toronto (@CTVToronto) April 2, 2019
Danilo Gallinari will be an incredible addition to the Raptors, giving them a very reliable second scoring option next to Kyle Lowry. This season, the 30-year-old small forward is averaging 19.8 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 2.5 assists on 46.3 percent shooting from the field and 43.4 percent shooting from beyond the arc. A starting lineup featuring Lowry, Danny Green, Gallinari, Paskal Siakam, and Marc Gasol will make the Raptors a team to fear in the Eastern Conference in the 2019-20 NBA season.