Kawhi Leonard is taking his sweet time making his free agency decision, and it could soon start to cost the Los Angeles Lakers.
Unlike most other big-name free agents who made a decision either before or shortly after the free agency period opened on Sunday evening, Leonard has taken a slow approach to free agency. He met with his two hometown teams, the Los Angeles Lakers and Clippers, earlier this week and then gave the final pitch to the Toronto Raptors.
As Raptors beat writer Kevin Rashidi reported on Twitter, the decision could start to become costly if it stretches any further into the weekend. According to Rashidi, the Lakers have until noon on Saturday to ink Leonard to a deal before the situation would start to get sticky. If it stretches any longer, the Lakers would have to reconnect with the teams involved in the Anthony Davis trade and ask if they would delay making it official.
Earlier in the week, a number of reporters indicated that the Lakers were in the lead to land Kawhi. That shifted later in the week as he met with the Raptors, leaving NBA insiders to one conclusion — there is no way to tell which way Kawhi is leaning.
As Rich Bucher noted on The Herd, even the team brass in Los Angeles isn’t sure about Leonard’s decision.
“Been corresponding with a member of the Lakers organization who thinks he’s going to Toronto,” he said. “Not sure if they’re clued in or not but let’s put it this way, there isn’t a consensus across the org that Kawhi will be in the purple and gold.”
The Raptors are reportedly making an unconventional pitch, with rapper Drake even offering a chance for Kawhi to play a role on his OVO record label. One of the main reasons Kawhi left the San Antonio Spurs was the chance to better market himself and gain more sponsorship deals, so the chance to be involved in the label could be an important selling point for the recent NBA Finals MVP.
From what I understand, if Kawhi doesn't decide by tomorrow at noon, Lakers are going to have to convince multiple teams to delay the AD trade for them.
— Kevin Rashidi (@KevinRashidi) July 5, 2019
The ripple effect if Kawhi doesn't make his decision before noon ET tomorrow, per ESPN. The following would be on hold. pic.twitter.com/MlMQixL3hc
— Josh Lewenberg (@JLew1050) July 5, 2019
As Silver Screen and Roll reported, Kawhi is looking for a long-term deal no matter where he goes. The report added that the Lakers can offer him a four-year contract at $32 million per year, while the Clippers and Raptors can offer Leonard his full max contract.
Kawhi Leonard’s camp hasn’t given any indication when his decision could be coming.