Kawhi Leonard Rumors: Clippers Preparing for Star to Remain with Raptors

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistJune 8, 2019

Toronto Raptors' Kawhi Leonard looks on prior to the first half of Game 6 of a second-round NBA basketball playoff series against the Philadelphia 76ers, Thursday, May 9, 2019, in Philadelphia. 76ers won 112-101. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)
Chris Szagola/Associated Press

The Los Angeles Clippers have reportedly started making alternative offseason plans after watching Kawhi Leonard lead the Toronto Raptors within one win of the 2019 NBA championship.

Joe Vardon of The Athletic reported Friday following the Raptors' 105-92 Game 4 win to take a 3-1 series lead over the Golden State Warriors that the Clippers "feel confident" Leonard will listen to their pitch as a free agent, but they're growing concerned his postseason run could give Toronto the edge.

Although the Clips have been frequently speculated as a potential landing spot for the 2014 NBA Finals MVP, who can utilize a player option in his contract to hit the open market this summer, he's remained predictably quiet about his future plans throughout the season.

"I'm not thinking about that," Leonard told ESPN's Tim Bontemps in January. "I'm focused on right now, what this is bringing for me and focused on the opportunity that I have here and what we can do this season. Later down the road, that's when I'll make my decision."

He doubled down on that stance Friday in a conversation with ESPN's Rachel Nichols:

It's unclear whether winning a championship would bolster the Raptors' chances of keeping Leonard, but the Clippers are apparently preparing for that outcome after watching him dominate in the Finals.

The 27-year-old L.A. native is averaging 30.8 points, 10.3 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 2.0 steals while shooting 44.7 percent from the field, including 40.3 percent on threes, in the series' first four games.

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Toronto's first opportunity to close out the Finals and raise the Larry O'Brien Trophy comes Monday night when they return home to Scotiabank Arena for Game 5.

Meanwhile, the Clippers have two max contract slots available to make a major splash this summer and could emerge as one of the offseason's biggest winners, especially if they land Leonard.

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