Kawhi Leonard wanted to play in sunny Los Angeles, not frigid Toronto. But it appears his reportedly frosty reaction to joining the Raptors is beginning to thaw.
Following up on a report that Leonard had “no interest” in playing for Toronto after the San Antonio Spurs dealt him there Wednesday and even would consider sitting out the season, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski suggested Leonard’s mindset is changing.
“(The Raptors have) been in communication with Kawhi Leonard’s camp,” Wojnarowski said Wednesday night on ESPN, as transcribed by NBC Sports. “He’s going to play. He’ll be in training camp. He’s healthy. He may be at USA Basketball’s minicamp next week, which (Spurs head coach) Gregg Popovich is coaching. That’s possible.
” … But the one thing I was told today, he’s started to warm to the idea that he’s going to a contender. He’s got a team that could be as good as anybody in the Eastern Conference.”
Wojnarowski is right: Toronto could be a serious title contender this season if Leonard stays healthy. In fact, you could argue the Raptors are better positioned to reach the NBA Finals than his preferred club, the Lakers, who would have to get past the back-to-back NBA champion Golden State Warriors in a loaded Western Conference.
But while Leonard may learn to tolerate the cold weather for a year, he still doesn’t plan on sticking around for a second winter when he becomes an unrestricted free agent next offseason.
“Now it’s on Toronto to try to recruit him, keep him,” Wojnarowski added. “But in his mind right now, he’s headed to L.A. next year.”
Unless Drake can convince him otherwise, that is.
Thumbnail photo via Soobum Im/USA TODAY Sports Images