Kawhi Leonard may end up returning to the Raptors after all.
Following a season of speculation as to whether the star forward will re-sign with Toronto, TrueHoop reported Friday that Leonard may return to Toronto — at least on a short-term deal. Leonard can opt out of his contract and become a free agent after this season’s over.
“Of course, he’s about to become a free agent. And because of that, as the media you might expect to hear sunny things about Kawhi’s return from Raptors sources eager to tamp down the impression Kawhi is bound for the Clippers or another team.
“But even before the Finals began, we at TrueHoop heard from plugged-in sources associated with players and the league — but not the team — that Kawhi would return to Toronto, at least on a short-term deal.”
The Raptors acquired Leonard in addition to Danny Green from the Spurs in exchange for a package centered around DeMar DeRozan in a blockbuster trade last offseason.
In just one season with Toronto, Leonard has stepped up in a big way for the Raptors as he averaged 26.6 points with 7.3 rebounds and 3.3 assists during the regular season. He’s played even better during the postseason, leading Toronto to an NBA Finals berth for the first time in franchise history. He’s averaged 30.7 points and 8.8 rebounds while shooting 39.4 percent from 3-point range through 19 playoff games.
Leonard helped the Raptors blow past the Magic in their opening-round series and then Toronto defeated the 76ers in seven games before taking down the Bucks in the Eastern Conference finals 4-2.
Leonard has previously been linked to the Clippers and rival executives believe he “likes” the team, but Leonard has been quiet about his free agency plans for most of the season.
“As long as I have on a jersey I want to play basketball,” Leonard told reporters in September. “I came here with an open mind. I want to do great things so I’m going to make sure that I put my full effort on the court each and every night.”