Kawhi Leonard has officially been a member of the Toronto Raptors for a little more than a week. The All-Star forward was traded by San Antonio up North in exchange for a package featuring All-Star shooting guard DeMar DeRozan.
It’s a risky move for the Raptors, who are only guaranteed to have Leonard for one season. He’s set to be a free agent in 2019 and most expect him to head home to California to play for the Lakers or the Clippers.
Toronto believes it will be able to convince him to say, though.
So far, so good.
Early reports out of Toronto are promising. Details have emerged from Leonard’s first meeting with the Raptors and they are encouraging.
Toronto head coach Nick Nurse said his first meeting with Leonard lasted for 45 minutes and the former Spurs star was asking a ton of questions.
“I sat down and said, ‘Do you have any questions?’ And he started firing them,” Nurse said, per Dave Feschuk of the Star. “And it just led us to a really easygoing [conversation]. Not what I was expecting. Very smart. Very intelligent. Very engaging. Really enjoyed it. …[Management] had to drag us out of there in the end because they had to go do something else. But it was great.”
That’s a good sign. It sill might be unlikely that Leonard decides to re-sign in Toronto, but it appears that he is at least willing to give the Raptors a chance.
The Kawhi Leonard-led Raptors could be the Eastern Conference’s best team in 2018-19, too. If he can help lead them to an NBA Finals berth, who knows what can happen in free agency.