Wednesday 24th April 2024,
The Hoop Doctors

Kawhi Leonard Says He’s Beginning Toronto Raptors Tenure with ‘Open Mind’

kawhi leonard

Kawhi Leonard appeared at the Toronto Raptors’ Media Day full of awkward laughs, smiles and, relative to his typical demeanor, candor. This is to say, he wouldn’t commit to staying with the Raptors beyond this season, but he also said he’s looking for reasons to remain.

From The Athletic’s Eric Koreen:

No one in the Raptors organization will be caught off-guard by Leonard’s sentiments. They’ve probably already talked to him about the future and encountered similar responses, for one. Mostly, though, they knew this is what they were up against when they acquired him.

Toronto has taken on a player who wanted to leave the San Antonio Spurs for Los Angeles. That much we know. It’s on the Raptors to convince him to have a change of heart. That won’t happen over night. It most certainly wasn’t going to happen before the season tipped. They can hope to make a great first impression, like the Oklahoma City Thunder did with Paul George, but ultimately, it comes down to whether he enjoys playing in Toronto and whether the Raptors are within close enough striking distance of an NBA title.

That first part will take care of itself. Toronto is a great basketball city. Leonard will soon find that out, if he hasn’t already. The latter aspect is more complicated. On paper, the Raptors look like they could run the tables on the East. And perhaps they will. But the road to a title still runs through the Golden State Warriors. So the Raptors’ best chance of keeping Leonard lies with at least measuring up to them while rivaling or exceeding intra-conference powers like the Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers.

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