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The Raptors Are Making A Big Hire To Make Kawhi Leonard Happy

kawhi leonard runs onto the court during a pregame introduction

The Toronto Raptors traded for Kawhi Leonard this offseason. The 27-year-old star is in the final year of his contract, and is slated to be a free agent in 2019.

Most pundits don't expect the Raptors to be able to sign Leonard next summer. It is well-known he wants to play in Los Angeles, and both the Lakers and Clippers have the cap space to make a serious run at him.

But that isn't stopping Toronto from trying to keep Leonard long-term. In fact, they just made a major addition to their staff with him in mind.

The Raptors are hiring San Antonio Spurs video coordinator Jeremy Castleberry as a player development coach, according to The Athletic's Shams Charania. Castleberry is Leonard's close friend and former teammate in high school and at San Diego State.

It is a move that doesn't guarantee anything for next year, but certainly shows the team's commitment to Leonard.

Assuming Leonard is healthy, Toronto will be one of the top contenders in the Eastern Conference this season. A mysterious leg injury limited Leonard to just nine games last season.

But it is clear that Raptors president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri is looking beyond 2018-19. This is a move designed to help keep Kawhi in Canada for a while.

Next year, the Raptors can offer Leonard a five-year, $190 million contract. According to ESPN, he could land a four-year, $141 million deal if he signs elsewhere.