Kawhi Leonard Rumors: Nets in the Mix for 2019 Free Agency After Raptors Trade

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistJuly 19, 2018

Houston Rockets' Patrick Beverley (2) jogs up court during the first half of Game 2 in a second-round NBA basketball playoff series against the Houston Rockets on Wednesday, May 3, 2017, in San Antonio. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Eric Gay/Associated Press

The Brooklyn Nets are reportedly a team to watch when Kawhi Leonard hits free agency next offseason.

According to the Toronto Star's Bruce Arthur on the Back to Back podcast (h/t Brian Lewis of the New York Post), Leonard is calling other players to gauge their interest in joining him next season, and the Nets are reportedly among the teams he has mentioned as a potential landing spot.

Leonard was traded by the San Antonio Spurs along with Danny Green on Wednesday to the Toronto Raptors for DeMar DeRozan, Jakob Poeltl and a protected 2019 first-round pick.

ESPN's Chris Haynes reported Wednesday that Leonard has "no desire" to play in Toronto.

Leonard is a Los Angeles native who has been linked to the Lakers, and Bleacher Report's Ric Bucher reported Wednesday that the Lakers are "confident" they'll be able to sign Leonard next offseason.

The Nets could be big players in free agency as well, however, since they may have the cap space needed to sign two superstars next offseason.

Lewis noted that Leonard has developed a "familiarity and fondness" for New York, which could result in the Nets being an attractive fit.

Although the Nets are coming off a 28-54 season and haven't reached the playoffs since 2014-15, they have some promising, young players in D'Angelo Russell, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Spencer Dinwiddie, Caris LeVert and Jarrett Allen.

Brooklyn also owns a pair of 2019 first-round draft picks.

The pieces are in place for a turnaround, and a healthy Leonard would likely accelerate the rebuild significantly.

While he appeared in only nine games last season due to a quad injury, Leonard is a legitimate superstar.

He is a two-time Defensive Player of the Year, one-time NBA Finals MVP and two-time All-Star who finished third in the NBA MVP voting in 2016-17.

The Raptors took a big risk in acquiring Leonard since there is no indication that he wants to re-sign, and that speaks to how much of a game-changing talent he is when he is on top of his game and in the lineup.

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