If Kawhi Leonard is still thinking about possibly moving to Los Angeles next summer, the Toronto Raptors are doing everything they can to change his made.
The Raptors have already invested a lot into the small forward this summer, as they took part in a huge trade with the San Antonio Spurs just to acquire him.
Back in July, Toronto sent guard DeMar DeRozan, center Jakob Poeltl, and a protected first-round pick in 2019 to San Antonio in exchange for Kawhi and veteran Danny Green.
The Raptors sent a lot to the Spurs despite the fact that Leonard is not guaranteed to be with the team beyond next season.
Yet, it looks as though they’re doing everything they can to make sure he strongly considers staying put in 2019, especially with their most recent appointment to their coaching staff.
According to ESPN’s Ian Bagley, the Raptors are hiring Jeremy Castleberry to coach Nick Nurse’s staff soon, who is a current staffer with the Spurs and is a friend of Kawhi.
Not only has Castleberry has worked with Leonard as a Spurs staffer, but he also played with the new Raptors star in high school and at San Diego State, where he was a walk-on.
Hiring Castleberry certainly won’t hurt Toronto’s chances of keeping Leonard next summer and draw him away from the lure of free agency.
The biggest deal Toronto would be able to offer the former two-time Kia Defensive Player of the Year and Finals MVP winner in 2019 is a five-year, $190 million contract.
However, if the small forward decides to leave the Raptors next summer, he could sign a four-year, $141 million deal with a team with the available salary-cap space in free agency.
Leonard’s preference is still to sign in Los Angeles with either the Lakers or Clippers next season, but this hiring of Castleberry has certainly boosted the Raptors’ chances of retaining the star forward next summer.
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