Paul George Says Free-Agency Discussion with Kawhi Leonard Is 'Between Us'

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistMarch 23, 2019

TORONTO, ON - MARCH 22:  Kawhi Leonard #2 of the Toronto Raptors dribbles the ball as Paul George #13 of the Oklahoma City Thunder defends during the second half of an NBA game at Scotiabank Arena on March 22, 2019 in Toronto, Canada.  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.  (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
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Toronto Raptors star Kawhi Leonard can opt out of his contract and hit free agency this summer. Apparently, he reached out to a peer who was in a similar situation last year to get his insight.

Oklahoma City Thunder star Paul George said Friday he had spoken with Leonard. George declined to elaborate on what was said, telling reporters, "That's between us," per TSN's Josh Lewenberg.

Nobody can say George was guilty of tampering because the Thunder have almost no shot of landing Leonard in free agency. Oklahoma City is set to be almost $39.6 million over the salary cap, so it won't be making any big moves over the summer.

Leonard couldn't have looked toward a better confidant since George was essentially in the same shoes.

The Thunder acquired him in a trade from the Indiana Pacers when he was a year away from free agency. Many wondered if George would effectively be a one-year rental for OKC before he signed with the Los Angeles Lakers. Instead, he stayed with the Thunder, signing a four-year, $136.9 million extension.

George told Bleacher Report's Master Tesfatsion he had envisioned going to Los Angeles at one time but discovered he felt comfortable in Oklahoma City and wanted to remain there.

Perhaps that's the message he conveyed to Leonard.

Like George, Leonard is a native of Southern California, and Sporting News' Sean Deveney reported the Los Angeles Clippers have "confidence that they could lure Leonard into the blue-and-red next summer."

The Clippers are projected to have almost $59.7 million in cap space, which is more than enough to give Leonard a max deal and potentially add another marquee free agent as well.

But Leonard may be enjoying Toronto more than he imagined when he first arrived from the San Antonio Spurs. Let's not forgot ESPN.com's Chris Haynes reported last July the two-time Defensive Player of the Year had "no desire" to play for the Raptors.

If Leonard ends up spurning a Los Angeles franchise just as George did, Raptors fans may owe a debt of gratitude to a player they once considered a conference rival.