Kawhi Leonard reportedly will become a free agent, but that doesn’t mean he is leaving Toronto.
According to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports, Leonard has declined his $21.3 million player option and will become a free agent this offseason.
Leonard’s options including re-signing with the Raptors for five years and $190 million or signing with another franchise for a max of four years and $140 million.
Despite Leonard entering free agency with many suitors lining up to sign him — most notably his hometown Los Angeles Clippers — the Toronto Raptors are still favored to re-sign the 2019 Finals MVP, according to rival executives.
“The appeal of returning home to Southern California is enticing to the two-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year, but with the trust the Raptors built while Leonard led the franchise to its first NBA title by upsetting the Golden State Warriors, rival executives view his current team as the favorite to land him when the free-agent negotiating period begins June 30, sources said.”
Leonard led the Raptors to their first title in franchise history in his first season with the organization after being acquired in a trade last summer with the San Antonio Spurs. While the Clippers had been considered the favorites to sign Leonard for the past year, the situation has changed over the past few weeks following the Raptors’ title victory.
The 27-year-old is coming off of a season in which he averaged a career-high in points (26.6) and rebounds (7.3). Considering the organization isn’t putting any pressure on Leonard to re-sign and the fact that there was no known drama within the locker room during Leonard’s lone season in Toronto, it’s becoming more apparent that Leonard may be favoring to re-sign with the defending champions after all.