Woj on Kawhi Leonard: Clippers Top the List; Thinks Raptors Have Work to Do

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorJune 14, 2019

OAKLAND, CA - JUNE 13:  Kawhi Leonard #2 of the Toronto Raptors celebrates after defeating the Golden State Warriors during Game Six of the NBA Finals on June 13, 2019 at Oracle Arena in Oakland, California. 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 2019 NBAE (Photo by Jack Arent/NBAE via Getty Images)
Jack Arent/Getty Images

Toronto Raptors forward Kawhi Leonard could be one-and-done north of the border.

ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported on SportsCenter Friday that Leonard, who can opt out of his contract and become a free agent this offseason, has the Los Angeles Clippers on top of his list of destinations. He also noted that the Raptors, who he just led to the 2019 NBA championship, "have work to do."

"He came to Toronto, with the idea from San Antonio, this was a very fine one year way station and I'm sure exceeded his expectations how they managed him physically to be a Finals MVP again, to win a championship," Wojnarowski said.

"But there was always the risk of him going back west. The L.A. Clippers are at the very top of that list, and I think the Raptors still have work to do between now and June 30 and the start of free agency to keep Kawhi Leonard in Toronto."

The San Antonio Spurs traded Leonard to the Toronto Raptors last summer in a blockbuster deal that sent DeMar DeRozan back their way, among other moving parts.

Toronto made the move knowing the possibility that Leonard could leave after one year if he so chose, but that decision by president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri paid off with the franchise's first title in their 24-year history.

Long-term prospects seem to be murky, however, with Leonard potentially heading to Los Angeles. Norman Powell is the only player officially under contract in 2020-2021, per HoopsHype. OG Anunoby has a team option that season, while Pascal Siakam can become a restricted free agent.

The 2019-20 season isn't as uncertain: Kyle Lowry, Serge Ibaka and Fred VanVleet are all returning in addition to the three aforementioned players. Marc Gasol can opt out of his deal, and Danny Green is an unrestricted free agent.

Still, losing a player like Leonard would be a huge blow to the Raptors. The best two-way player in the game averaged 30.5 points, 9.1 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 1.7 steals in 24 postseason contests en route to the title.

On the flip side, Wojnarowski's report is great news for the Clippers, who finished 48-34 and took the Golden State Warriors to six games in the first round as a No. 8 seed.

With Leonard in the mix, Los Angeles would become an instant title contender, creating the possibility of the eight-year veteran leading two separate franchises to their first-ever championships in back-to-back seasons.

The Clippers are already 6-1 favorites to win the title, per Caesars Palace, a mark that ranks second-highest in the league behind just the Los Angeles Lakers.

The Lakers' and Clippers' marks seemingly insinuate significant improvement to their rosters via free agency or trade.

Ultimately, California could be the center of the basketball universe next year if Leonard heads to the Clippers and Anthony Davis is traded to the Los Angeles Lakers, which has been rumored for months, as noted by HoopsHype.

And then there are the defending Western Conference champions Golden State Warriors, who have won five straight conference titles.

Regardless of what happens, this offseason may be the most eventful since LeBron James and Chris Bosh joined Dwyane Wade on the Miami Heat in 2010.

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