The Toronto Raptors have taken a huge gamble on their future by choosing to trade for Kawhi Leonard this summer in the hope that they can convince him to stay long-term.
The two-time All-Star will be a free agent next summer and it’s widely believed that he has his heart set on a move back to his hometown of Los Angeles to join either the Clippers or Lakers.
He reportedly informed the San Antonio Spurs of his desire to be traded to L.A. this summer but he was sent to Canada instead.
The Raptors chose to give up DeMar DeRozan, who had three years remaining on his contract, to acquire Leonard for potentially just one season.
But Danny Green, who was also involved in the deal, believes they can keep him as he expects his teammate to find it hard to leave Toronto once he gets settled in.
“I don’t know where his mind is at for the future. I can’t predict or tell you. I can just tell you that the city of Toronto is gonna be hard to turn down after being there,” Green said on his Inside the Green Room podcast, via Wael Saghir of TheScore.
“I’ve been going every summer for the past 10-plus years. It’s a great city, and the fans are amazing.
“The last couple weeks, just going up for a couple days here and there and how they’ve shown me so much love.
“As a Raptor now, I’m so much more well known there and getting a great amount of feedback, a great amount of love and all types of different stuff from the fans.
“So it’s gonna be tough for him to turn down.”
Raptors fans have already started an online campaign called “Kawhi or Die” as they’re attempting to do their bit to make him feel at home and help the franchise re-sign him next summer.
With the two-time Defensive Player of the Year, the Raps have a chance to do something special this season and reach the NBA Finals for the first time.
They are among the favourites to win the east and the presence of the superstar will make them an even better outfit.
The success of the team will surely have a huge bearing on Leonard’s decision but a lot will depend on his health and what he can produce.
He played just nine games for the Spurs last year due to a quad injury and it’s unclear if he’s back to 100 percent yet.
According to Raptors assistant coach Phil Handy who has been working with him this summer, he’s “doing great” in his offseason workouts which is a positive update.
The one thing we know for sure is that the 2018-19 campaign will be huge for both Kawhi and Toronto.
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