Kawhi Leonard Rumors: Raptors Closing the Gap on Clippers; LA Still Front-Runner

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorJune 20, 2019

TORONTO, ON - JUNE 17:  Kawhi Leonard #2 of the Toronto Raptors holds the Bill Russell MVP Trophy during the Toronto Raptors Championship Victory Parade on June 17, 2019 in Toronto, Ontario. 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 Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Mark Blinch/NBAE via Getty Images)
Mark Blinch/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Clippers are the favorites to land Toronto Raptors forward and two-time NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard in free agency this summer, but ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported on ESPN's NBA Draft Preview Show on Wednesday (h/t Mike Zavagno of Fear the Sword) that the Raps have "closed the gap."

However, Wojnarowski also said Toronto is still a clear underdog to land Leonard and that it is "running out of time" to convince Leonard to stay.

The 27-year-old averaged 30.5 points, 9.1 rebounds and 1.7 steals during the Raptors' postseason run, which culminated in a six-game NBA Finals victory over the back-to-back defending champion Golden State Warriors.

Leonard can become an unrestricted free agent this summer if he declines his 2019-20 player option.

The Clips have long been rumored as a potential Leonard landing spot. HoopsHype has gathered rumors connecting the two sides dating back over a full year.

In January, ESPN's Tim Bontemps reported league executives believed Leonard would pick between the Clippers or Raptors.

In April, ESPN's Stephen A. Smith reported on First Take (h/t Bleacher Report's Mike Chiari) that the Clippers had a "better than 50 percent chance" to sign Leonard and Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant.

On Tuesday, Wojnarowski said on ESPN's Get Up! that Leonard's focus is on the Clips.

Leonard, who is originally from Southern California, would instantly make the Clippers a title contender. They went 48-34 last season, and adding one of the NBA's best players should only help a team on the rise.

Oddsmakers seemingly expect the Clippers to make a significant addition, as Caesars Palace listed them with 7-1 odds to win the 2019-20 NBA title. The Los Angeles Lakers (3-1) and Milwaukee Bucks (6-1) are the only teams higher on the ledger.

NBA free agency begins on Sunday, June 30 at 6 p.m. ET.


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