This year’s NBA Finals does feature Drake, but it also features two of the biggest potential free agents this offseason. Both Kawhi Leonard and Kevin Durant are expected to decline their player options and become unrestricted free agents, free to sign where they please. We haven’t seen much of Durant after he sprained his calf in the Western Conference Finals, but we’ve seen a whole lot of Leonard.
Toronto adores Leonard, and despite their best efforts, the narrative continues to revolve around if he’ll stay in Canada or leave for greener, and likely warmer, pastures in Los Angeles. What he plans to do is a matter of great mystery, but two respected NBA reporters– Ramona Shelburne of ESPN and Henry Abbott of TrueHoops– have conflicting intel on the superstar’s intentions once the playoffs conclude.
You can see it from both sides. Leonard’s camp has indicated he wants to be in Los Angeles since he was still a Spur. Yet this year could not possibly have gone better for Leonard in Toronto so far; the front office was extremely cautious with his health and made aggressive moves to improve their team, and he became a folk hero forever with the first-ever Game 7 buzzer-beater to send the Sixers home.
The ramifications are big here. Should Leonard stay on a two-year deal with a player option for next season, similar to what Durant has done in Golden State and what LeBron did before signing with the Lakers, he’d become the prize potential free agent of 2020 (depending on how the Anthony Davis situation unfolds). This year he’s competing with Durant and even Kyrie Irving for that title. Should he leave, Toronto likely shifts to rebuild mode after making their first-ever NBA Finals. Whatever Leonard decides to do will drastically impact the landscape of the league.
The anticipation will continue to mount as July 1 quickly approaches. From the conflicting reports of the reliable pairing of Shelburne and Abbot, we may not know what he’s going to do until he does it. I imagine that’s just how he likes things.