NBA Free Agency 2019: Latest Rumors on Kawhi Leonard, Marcus Morris and More

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistJuly 11, 2019

Toronto Raptors forward Kawhi Leonard speaks at a news conference alongside the NBA Finals Most Valuable Player trophy after the Raptors defeated the Golden State Warriors in Game 6 of basketball's NBA Finals in Oakland, Calif., Thursday, June 13, 2019. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
Ben Margot/Associated Press

While the opening of 2019 NBA free agency was wild, its midsection isn't lacking for drama.

Since all of the landscape-shifting dominos have dropped, there's an opportunity to look back on what transpired and see why things came together⁠—or, in the case of Kawhi Leonard and the Toronto Raptors, why they didn't.

But since the free-agent pool hasn't been picked apart, there are still rumors attached to prospective targets.

The latest batch of buzz has both, so let's start the dissection.

              

Raptors Were Leading Kawhi Sweepstakes Until They Weren't?

Before the Los Angeles Clippers emerged victorious in the Leonard pursuit, they pondered the same question as the rest of the basketball world: What if Toronto's title run had actually convinced the Southern California native to stick it out north of the border?

"The Raptors did everything right," a Clippers official told SportsNet's Michael Grange. "We saw the parade, saw those pictures and figured that was it. We were done."

Obviously, that wasn't the case, and Toronto started getting an inkling of it once the champagne had dried and the recruitment period was underway.

The Raptors' confidence in keeping Leonard "began to waver" upon their meeting with him and his uncle, Dennis Robertson, in Toronto last Wednesday, sources told TSN's Josh Lewenberg.

The 28-year-old and his camp were making "unreasonable" requests, a source told Lewenberg, which had the Raptors believing he "had eyes for the Clippers all along."

By the time the Oklahoma City Thunder came calling about a possible Paul George deal, the Raptors sensed they were being used as leverage against the Clippers and "tapped out," Grange wrote.

Looking back changes nothing, of course, and Toronto's gamble on Leonard still paid off immensely with the franchise's first-ever NBA title. But if anyone was wondering if the Raptors could've done more to convince him to stay, it seems that may never have been possible.

                

Knicks Liked Marcus Morris Entering Free Agency, Might Have Money for Him Now?

The New York Knicks were hoping to make a few cannonball-sized splashes this summer. But once their preferred targets headed elsewhere, they pivoted to handing out short-term (read: cap-space-preserving) contracts with players who, to the casual fan at least, barely made a ripple.

That said, before their summer strategy had even gone awry, they were fans of Marcus Morris.

"One SNY source familiar with the team's thinking...said the Knicks were enamored by Morris' toughness and how it could influence their young players," SNY's Ian Begley reported.

That's relevant now because the 'Bockers might still have a chance to get the 29-year-old.

They are "re-working" their original two-year, $21 million deal with Reggie Bullock, per ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, regarding the sharpshooter's "fitness to play a full season in 2019-20."

Bullock battled plantar fasciitis last season, which Marc Berman of the New York Post noted "is a lingering issue that ultimately could lead to surgery in some cases."

Without Bullock on the books⁠—or with him on a minimum deal⁠—Berman reported the Knicks would have $14.8 million in remaining cap space. That number is critical, as Yahoo Sports' Chris Haynes noted Morris "is considering reneging on his [two-year, $20 million] agreement with the San Antonio Spurs" as he has "a one-year, roughly $15 million offer on the table" from the Knicks.

While Haynes reported there is optimism Morris and the Spurs will come to an agreement, he added that San Antonio has started reaching out to other free agents in case Morris bolts for the Big Apple.

             

No Amar'e Reunion With the Knicks?

Amar'e Stoudemire spent four-plus seasons of his 14-year NBA career with the Knicks.

A fifth campaign is apparently not in the works, despite the six-time All-Star's attempt to return to the Association after retiring in 2016.

The 36-year-old recently worked out for 15 NBA teams in Las Vegas, including the Knicks. But the team has since decided "not to make a move" for its former $100 million man, a source told Berman.

Potential sentimental attachments aside, this shouldn't be surprising. The Knicks heavily invested in their frontcourt during free agency and need to keep the developmental paths cleared for young bigs such as Mitchell Robinson, Julius Randle, Kevin Knox and Bobby Portis.

Even if Stoudemire has anything left in the tank⁠—he averaged just 5.8 points and 4.3 rebounds over 52 games with the Miami Heat in 2015-16⁠—he'd be an awkward addition for a rebuilding team squarely focused on the future.

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