After sitting out a year, Kawhi Leonard's health is finally cleared to join the relatively young, Toronto based franchise. There have been spiraling media speculations about whether or not going north of the border is a long-term move or not...and if it is short term, will he or will he not be joining Lebron James in Los Angeles.
Before I get into it, I will admit that this is the first time in a while that NBA off-season has caught my attention. Typically, I'm more interested in seeing the results of free agency trades in regular season. However, this year is a tad different, especially with the King James takeover that basketball fans and #NBAtwitter are still pining over weeks post-trade. The list of veterans and super stars - Kawhi being one of them - have made this off season are intriguing. The shifts are bound to reshape and transform the current climate of the NBA as we know it.
Scooter Magruder did a hilarious, yet phenomenal job at depicting fan reactions to the free agency:
Back to Kawhi. Historically, if we take a close, retrospect look at American NBA stars who move to Canada to play ball for this franchise never want to stay in Toronto. Players like Chris Bosh, Vince Carter, Tracy McGrady didn't last long at all, on the exception of DeMar DeRozan, who was just 1 year shy of a decade long run in Toronto. On the flip side of that, Raptors are fortunately going to be in a much better position defensively with Kawhi illuminating the roster next season. Coming off the best season they've ever had, does this team now have the ingredients to wind to make it to the finals? Stay tuned, because although it's hard to picture right now, anything is possible, a narrative we've seen play out a thousand times over in this off season alone.
Meanwhile, Masai Ujiri, GM for the Raptors, is convinced that he can make Leonard fall in love with Toronto enough to resign once the season is over. As long as he is open to what the city and the team has to offer as an all inclusive package, it's a possibility. It's a far cry to say Kawhi is particularly ecstatic about it, although he's been fairly quiet throughout this entire process. It will absolutely be in his best interest to play his heart out, regardless of whether his heart is in Toronto or not; that way, he can remain a top tier player if and when he chooses to come back to play in the states.
What are your thoughts on this trade? Did the Spurs make a smart decision to let Kawhi go? Will he stay in Canada or will he return...and if you are leaning towards the latter, where do you think he'll end up??