Not even the team’s first-ever trip to the NBA Finals is enough to keep the Toronto Raptors from getting tossed into the rumor mill regarding the future of star Kawhi Leonard.
Luckily, the All-Pro forward’s sister is there to set the record straight — after she was the one getting the rumor mill started.
As the USA Today‘s FTW pointed out, Kawhi’s sister Meisha Slayton took to Instagram Live to celebrate the team’s win over the Milwaukee Bucks to advance to the NBA Finals. As she was reading off comments from fans, a voice in the background could be heard saying, “They know darn well he ain’t gonna be there next year.”
The disembodied voice was fuel to the rumor fire already surrounding Kawhi Leonard, leading many to believe that a family member had slipped in letting it be known that he was bolting the team after this season. But Slayton stepped forward to clear the air, saying that the voice wasn’t from any member of the family or anyone else with inside knowledge — it was just a random Raptors hater who was watching the game where she was watching it, the report noted.
There had been some fear that the voice belonged to Kawhi’s infamous “Uncle Dennis,” the mysterious figure who reportedly pushed him away from the San Antonio Spurs. There was plenty of speculation about the role that Dennis Robertson played in Kawhi’s estrangement from the Spurs that led up to his being traded to the Raptors, and he finally spoke up about it this year.
In an interview with Yahoo! Sports, Robertson said it came down to a matter of broken trust between Kawhi and the team that was allegedly pushing him to return from injury too quickly.
“They didn’t believe Kawhi couldn’t play, and that caused a lack of trust in us and then us not believing in them,” Robertson said.
“Any time a player says he’s not capable of playing, you should believe him. Why would Kawhi just stop playing all of a sudden? He’s a competitor.”
Kawhi Leonard tallies 27 PTS, 17 REB, 7 AST in Game 6 and the @Raptors advance to their first #NBAFinals Presented by @YouTubeTV in franchise history! #WeTheNorth #NBAPlayoffs— NBA (@NBA) May 26, 2019
GSW/TOR Game 1: Thursday (5/30), 9:00pm/et, ABC pic.twitter.com/q6B1Mm48ZN
The denial from Kawhi Leonard’s sister will likely not quash entirely the rumors that he may be leaving town after this season. There are still some lingering reports that he may look for a new home, though Bleacher Report noted late in the season that the Raptors were increasingly confident the would be able to re-sign Leonard after the season ends. If the team should be able to win its first-ever NBA title, it may be even easier to convince Leonard to stay.