Kawhi Leonard Trade Rumors: Raptors Have Made 'Compelling' Offer for Star

Alec Nathan@@AlecBNathanFeatured ColumnistJuly 17, 2018

SAN ANTONIO, TX - JANUARY 5: Kawhi Leonard #2 of the San Antonio Spurs dunks the ball during game against the Phoenix Suns on January 5, 2018 at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photos by Mark Sobhani/NBAE via Getty Images)
Mark Sobhani/Getty Images

The Toronto Raptors are reportedly ramping up their pursuit of a trade for San Antonio Spurs small forward Kawhi Leonard

Appearing on TSN's SportsCentre on Tuesday, ESPN's Brian Windhorst said the Raptors have made the Spurs a "compelling offer" and that team president Masai Ujiri has been negotiating with them during his time in Africa. 

ESPN.com's Adrian Wojnarowski and Ramona Shelburne wrote Tuesday that the Spurs have remained in contact with a host of clubs as they explore their options following Leonard's trade demand: 

"Trade talks with several teams continue, with traction slowly, surely gathering with offers for a star insisting that he wants to play for the Los Angeles Lakers. If the Spurs are losing deal leverage, they aren't operating in a manner that suggests they're peddling a depreciating asset. San Antonio has been determined in demanding a sizable return on Leonard."

The Raptors, along with the Denver Nuggets, Los Angeles Clippers, Phoenix Suns, Portland Trail Blazers and Washington Wizards, were mentioned as one of the teams the Spurs have talked to. 

Wojnarowski and Shelburne also noted the Spurs' discussions with the Boston Celtics, Lakers and Philadelphia 76ers haven't gained steam for various reasons. 

The Sixers and Celtics have reportedly been reluctant to include their top players in any deals, instead preferring "pick-heavy packages that haven't moved the Spurs."

Furthemore, Wojnarowski and Shelburne wrote that "the Lakers are playing the longer game in trade talks, confident in the belief that Leonard wants to play with them and plans to sign in free agency in July 2019."

The Raptors, however, have a pressing need to shake things up following a second-round sweep at the hands of the Cleveland Cavaliers. 

"One thing about Masai Ujiri: He has never been afraid to talk about his star players in trade talks," Wojnarowski said in June (h/t DefPen Hoops' Rob Lopez). "He's not going to tell you anybody's untouchable, and teams around the league know that. So they'll talk about almost anything with this roster." 

Last Thursday, OddsShark noted the Raptors were even-odds favorites to land Leonard before the start of next season. 

The 27-year-old, who is in the final year of his contract, is eligible to receive a five-year, $221 million supermax extension from the Spurs. 

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