Rejoice Toronto Raptors fans, because it seems Kawhi Leonard is approaching his time in Canada with an open mind. Now that doesn’t mean that NBA Sports Books think he will yet. In fact, according to TopBet sportsbook, he’s still not likely to re-sign in Toronto. But one thing that could make the odds a bit better? The Raptors winning the East.
Here’s what the San Antonio Express-News‘ Jabari Young told TSN (h/t Sporting News’ Thomas Lott):
According to the San Antonio Express-News, Leonard could be convinced to stay in Toronto.
“Based off of me talking to people within his circle, they’re going to go into this thing with an open mind and give this thing every last opportunity to work,” Jabari Young of the Express-News told TSN. “And at the end of the day, if that’s the case, then it would be great if he stays. Obviously, I think part of his mind, yes, let’s keep real: I think he still feels like L.A. might be the destination. At the same time, he plans to go into this thing with an open mind, giving it every single shot in the world to make it work.”
This is a pretty big deal. Most have Leonard ticketed for the Los Angeles Clippers or Los Angeles Lakers in free agency next summer. Viewing his future in Toronto with an open mind could help the Raptors’ pitch to help him stay.
You’re going to hear this comparison a zillion times over the next 10 months or so, but it bears repeating: Paul George was supposed to leave the Oklahoma City Thunder for the Lakers this past summer. He never did. He stayed with the Thunder. He enjoyed life in Oklahoma City and playing with Russell Westbrook. The same could happen with Leonard and the Raptors—particularly if they emerge as the Eastern Conference’s biggest threat to the reigning-champion Golden State Warriors.
Forced to choose at the moment, I’d still bet on Leonard leaving Toronto. But even the most devout skeptics have to know that an Eastern Conference Finals appearance or NBA Finals cameo might be enough to change his mind.