NBA Rumors: Kawhi Leonard Made 'Unreasonable' Requests from Raptors in Talks

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistJuly 11, 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

Kawhi Leonard signed with the Los Angeles Clippers this offseason, joining Paul George to give the team arguably the best one-two punch in basketball.

But Leonard did at least entertain the notion of returning to the Toronto Raptors after winning a title with the organization.

According to Josh Lewenberg of TSN, however, the Raptors questioned just how seriously Leonard considered returning to the team given some of the requests he made when he met with them:

"According to sources, Leonard and his camp—namely Uncle Dennis [Robertson]—asked for a lot from the Raptors in that meeting, things players don't generally ask for in standard contract negotiations.

"In some cases, they were asking for things that [Masai] Ujiri—one of the most well-compensated executives in the league—wouldn't have even had at his disposal. Their requests were 'unreasonable,' a source said, which made the Raptors wonder whether Leonard was seriously considering them at all."

It's unclear just what Leonard and his camp requested of the Raptors. But according to that report, the Raptors "believed Leonard had eyes for the Clippers all along."

Leonard also reportedly requested the Raptors acquire George if they wanted to keep him in Toronto, though it's said those talks never got far and didn't include Russell Westbrook.

ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported on July 6 that Oklahoma City Thunder general manager Sam Presti "had been willing" to potentially move both George and Westbrook to the Raptors, though "no talks ever gained traction."

In the end, the Raptors simply couldn't match the enormous bounty the Clippers paid—Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Danilo Gallinari, four future unprotected first-round picks, a future protected first-rounder and two pick swaps.

It was a huge price to pay for George, though if taken in the context that it also landed the Clippers Leonard, it becomes a more reasonable offering for two superstars. 

As for the Raptors, the team has decisions to make. Do they run it back this season, hoping to make another playoff run before Kyle Lowry, Marc Gasol, Serge Ibaka and Fred VanVleet all hit free agency (and Pascal Siakam becomes a restricted free agent)? Or do they begin their rebuild immediately, looking to deal the veterans like Lowry, Gasol and Ibaka?

Lewenberg reported that "the Raptors have no intention of moving them, at least not before the season." So that perhaps answers the question for now. But if the Raptors struggle in the post-Kawhi world, don't be surprised if all three are put on the trade market during the season.


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