Kawhi Leonard (player option)
This decision may be the most obvious one for the entire league’s free agency. Still, it’s worth reiterating that the Raptors should do everything in their power to retain Leonard.
The superstar was the driving force behind Toronto’s first NBA title, posting a playoff run for the ages and earning Finals MVP for the second time in his young career.
There has been no indication from Leonard’s camp about what he plans to do this summer, leaving the franchise and the rest of the NBA in the lurch. Chris Haynes of Yahoo! Sports reports that Leonard will decline his option and enter free agency, which has been the prevailing notion. ESPN‘s Adrian Wojnarowski reports that the Raptors and Los Angeles Clippers are the two top contenders for Leonard’s services:
Leonard will demand a warranted max contract, which might force the Raptors to dive into the luxury tax. This past season, Leonard only had the fourth-highest base salary on the team, trailing Kyle Lowry, Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka. Toronto has the ability to offer Leonard a larger contract than any other team can, but the motivations that drive Leonard remain as murky as ever.
The dollars and cents aren’t what matters to the team here. What matters is keeping the player most likely to lead the Raptors to more titles.
Verdict: Buy, Buy, Buy