The Raptors are starting to believe they can keep Kawhi Leonard long term.
Toronto front office officials have “become increasingly confident” about the team’s chances of re-signing the 27-year-old forward, according to a report from TSN, which cited unidentified league sources.
Leonard is expected to opt out of his contract and become an unrestricted free agent this summer.
The Raptors acquired Leonard, along with guard Danny Green, in a blockbuster trade with the Spurs last offseason. The star has averaged 27.2 points and 7.5 rebounds while shooting 37.7 percent from 3-point range in 2018-19.
The Clippers and Lakers both are expected to pursue Leonard in free agency. However, he said in February he’s focusing on the present.
“Just playing the season right now,” Leonard said at the time, via the New York Daily News. “Just talk to people, just see what I want to do. … I’m not talking about (free agency) right now. We’re going to get there.
“It’s been fun (playing in Toronto),” he continued. “We’re winning and we’re building something here to get to our goal.”
Toronto enters play Monday in second place of the Eastern Conference standings with a 51-23 record. Coach Nick Nurse said he’s confident in his team.
“I feel like if the playoffs started tomorrow, I feel really good about where we are,” Nurse said, via TSN. “I really do.”
The Raptors will host the Bulls on Tuesday. They have eight regular-season games remaining.