The Raptors do not want to lose Kawhi Leonard.
The 27-year-old star will enter free agency coming off of one of the best postseason runs ever. He led the Raptors to their first championship in franchise history by averaging 30.5 points and 9.1 rebounds while shooting 49% from the field in 24 playoff games.
— NBA (@NBA) June 16, 2019
Leonard was named the Finals MVP after Toronto topped the Warriors in six games.
“I think that for us, at least speaking for myself, there’s nothing more that we can do,” Raptors guard Fred VanVleet said about Leonard, via TSN. “We’ve done it, the city’s done it, the coaches have done it, the teammates have done it. We’ve done our job. The best way to recruit somebody is to just be yourself over the course of the year.”
The Clippers will chase Leonard this offseason and rival executives believe he “likes” the team, according to an earlier report from Bleacher Report. He also will consider re-signing with the Raptors, according to ESPN, while the Knicks and Lakers will reportedly pursue him, as well.
“I would assume that he knows what is here and what makes this place special,” VanVleet said. “And, if it’s enough it’ll be enough and if it’s not then it’s not. So, it’s not the biggest deal in the world.
“He came here and did what he was supposed to do. He brought this city a championship and I think he’s earned his freedom in his career to do what he wants to do and we’ll all respect and admire him.”
VanVleet on Kawhi’s free agency: “There’s nothing more we can do. We’ve done it, the city’s done it, this franchise has done it, the coaches have done it, his teammates have done it. We’ve done our job. I would assume he knows what is here and what makes this place special” pic.twitter.com/JtsoYQ7K34
— Josh Lewenberg (@JLew1050) June 16, 2019
Marc Gasol, who was sent from the Grizzlies to the Raptors at the deadline, praised Leonard when he met with reporters Sunday.
“I don’t think there’s any other player of his caliber in the NBA right now,” Gasol said. “He’s on a pedestal by himself.”
The Raptors acquired Leonard — along with Danny Green — from the Spurs for a package centered around DeMar DeRozan in a blockbuster trade last offseason. Green will also be a free agent this summer and said he’d like to return to Toronto. But, he said Leonard’s decision will have an impact on his.
“He can change a whole organization,” Green said.