With a trade to the Raptors imminent, Kawhi Leonard has expressed “no desire” to play in Toronto according to ESPN’s Chris Haynes. Yahoo’s Shams Charania reports that the forward will not commit to re-signing in Toronto next summer.
Kawhi Leonard has no desire to play in Toronto, league source tells ESPN.
— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) July 18, 2018
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The Kawhi Leonard saga may be reaching a climax three weeks into free agency. According to Yahoo Sports’ Shams Charania, the Toronto Raptors and San Antonio Spurs are negotiating a trade that would send Leonard to Canada with DeMar DeRozan coming back in return.
San Antonio and Toronto are engaged in serious talks on a trade centered on Kawhi Leonard and DeMar DeRozan, league sources tell Yahoo.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) July 18, 2018
Leonard expressed his desire to be traded from the Spurs earlier this summer after a nearly year-long absence from the team. He made it known that he wanted a trade to Los Angeles with his preferred destination being the Lakers.
Since then, there have been conflicting reports in a war for leverage noting that Leonard may or may not want to be on the same team as Lakers star LeBron James.
The Raptors have gained traction as a potential destination over the past week as the Lakers, Philadelphia 76ers and Boston Celtics have all seemingly been cautious in their approach. Based on recent reports, DeRozan would be the clear best player available in a trade for Leonard but it is unclear how many future assets in the form of draft picks and young players the Raptors can offer.
Leonard can become a free agent next summer and his reported desire to sign with the Lakers has given some teams pause. The former defensive player of the year is reportedly strongly considering attending Team USA minicamp later this month which could give teams more insight into his health and injury status.
The Lakers faced a similar situation last summer when Paul George’s desire to become a Laker became public knowledge. They were unable to come to terms with the Indiana Pacers, paving the way for George to be traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder where he re-signed at the start of free agency.
It’s unclear if the Lakers will be more aggressive this time around as the Raptors are seemingly putting immense pressure to get a deal done.