Kuwhi Leonard signing with the Los Angeles Clippers over the weekend sent shockwaves throughout the NBA, Sporting World and left Toronto Raptor fans stunned, disappointed, sad and lost for words. High hopes that he would stay with the Raptors were shattered as they were envisioning, that with Kuwhi on board, more championship titles would come their way. Now the Raptors are left empty handed with many questions facing the franchise.
As I wrote in an article last week, three teams were reportedly in contention for Leonard’s services- L.A. Lakers, L.A. Clippers and Toronto Raptors. The Lakers saw a chance to build a dynasty around Leonard, LeBron James and Anthony Davis. The Clippers saw a chance to be very competitive and be a force in the NBA, not to mention a heated rivalry established with their cousins across town, the L.A. Lakers. The Raptors saw a King, one who would help secure another championship title.
Free Agency commenced on July 1st with Leonard not in a hurry to sign with anyone. Unlike Kevin Durant of the Golden State Warriors or Jimmy Butler of the Philadelphia 76’s, who jumped quickly to sign mega deals. Leonard opted to wait it out and be patient. He spent time travelling back and forth from L.A. to Toronto for talks with the L.A. teams and Raptors. It created quite a media frenzy throughout the sporting world, especially in Toronto.
Leonard is a cool dude and an equally shrewd negotiator. We learned from media reports that allegedly, he approached Paul George of Oklahoma City, to team up with him. According to media sources, Mr. George then went to team management and demanded to be traded. Oklahoma City complied, after all why keep a disgruntled player around. So, a mega deal was swung with the L.A. Clippers, sending George to L.A. for a bucket load of draft picks. Could it be that Leonard informed L.A. Clipper to go out and get George as a condition of his agreeing to sign with them? Perhaps. We do know, Kuwhi Leonard waited six days into free agency to before making his decision. Once it was announced, soon there after, the Paul George deal hit the news wire. Co-Incident? You tell me?
Kuwhi owes nothing to the Toronto Raptors, the city of Toronto or the country of Canada. He did what they brought him in to do, to win an NBA Championship. He brought tremendous interest in the game of basketball to a country that prides itself in hockey first. Canada embraced basketball and they loved every minute of the NBA playoffs. He will forever be remembered in Raptor history.
Yes, Toronto could have signed him for more money. He doesn’t need it nor was it a deciding factor. If it was, Toronto wins the prize.
Yes, Raptors with Kuwhi, improved their chances of repeating as NBA Champions.
Yes, had he signed, a statue of Kuwhi would be mounted outside the Raptors home court- Scotia Bank Place.
In the end, he just wanted to go home. You can’t blame him for that. Good for Kuwhi!
To Raptor fans, I feel for you, but it is time to get over it. Be glad you had your day in the Sun. Kuwhi has moved on and so should you!
Those are my views, I welcome Yours!