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After the NBA Finals: Where do we go from Here?

Kawhi Leonard Toronto Raptors
Photo: NBA

The Toronto Raptors pulled some bold moves and it paid off. They won their first NBA Championship in franchise history.

Uncertainty surrounding Kawhi’s future in Toronto and moves made by others – the LA Lakers – have the reigning champions trailing at the trusted online betting site, 5Dimes.

Now at nine to one, the champs trail the Clippers at eight to one, the Bucks six to one, and the Lakers at three to one.

Will Kawhi Stay?

Kawhi Leonard was considered a major risk by many in Toronto. Giving up DeMar DeRozan, Jakob Poeltl, and a 2019 first round draft pick 1-20 that moves to two second round picks the year after.

It wasn’t just the numbers, but the idea of dropping a guy like DeMar Rozan off at the curb with a roll of quarters for a cab.

A man who advocated the city of Toronto for years in exchange for a guy who many thought was faking an injury to get out of San Antonio. Or at the very least, a guy with such a serious quad injury that it sits him for the season is like risking it all on black.

Photo: NBA

But, Kawhi came to Toronto. He made nice with Kyle Lowry right away and did the right thing, telling his new teammate that he was sorry that his friend was traded away, but he would do everything he could to bring wins to Toronto.

And that is exactly what he did. The Toronto Raptors are proud owners of the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy. And Drake can finally say with certainty that the Toronto Raptors are the best basketball team in the word without it just being a bunch recalcitrant mouth-running.

But, now that Kawhi Leonard’s one-year contract is up, will he stay in Toronto and chase another ring or will he break up the championship-winning team dynamic by searching for a long-term paycheck?

As Fred VanVleet said, the Raptors have done everything they can to win over Kawhi, starting with including his buddy Danny Green in the trade deal.

Surely, he’s the one who was getting preferential treatment when it comes to travel, hotels, accommodations for family and friends. So, really there is nothing more the Raptors can do to retain Leonard.

They have already more than proven that they want him there. I mean, the city is literally offering him free room and board! Free food at dozens of restaurants and a freaking penthouse – Ka’Wine and Dine!

To be fair, Kawhi Leonard has held up his end of the bargain. He played a pivotal role in leading Toronto to an NBA Title. But, the proverbial ball is now in his court.

And there is one thing that Toronto can’t offer the two-time NBA Finals MVP: Southern California Sunshine.

Photo: Toronto Raptors

Other Options

When you look at it long and hard, it makes sense for him to stay for another season or a one + one (1+1). The reason being is that if he stays in Toronto, it will be easy to keep this unit intact.

Marc Gasol just has to pick up his player option, and then the Raptors just need to secure Danny Green again as well.

That’s it. There are no other free agents at the moment. As long as they don’t get silly and tinker, they can go into 2019-2020 with the core of championship team on the roster.

But, with Kawhi’s history of injuries, he might not want to risk another one-year deal with Toronto, and he might be reluctant to take the whopping 189 million to stay away from his beloved California.

So, would it be wise for him to look for a long-term contract in say, LA? The Clippers are clearing a trail for recruiting both Kahwi and KD. They have room for two maximum contracts and a decent supporting staff.

Photo: Toronto Raptors

What about LeBron, Anthony Davis, and Kawhi? Could the Lakers swing it with some concessions from players like AD?

One hundred eighty-nine million dollars is nothing to scoff at. So Toronto does have a legitimate shot at landing Kawhi on a five-year deal. It just comes down to whether or not he wants to remain in Canada.

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