The fate of Kawhi Leonard seems to be the Toronto Raptors fans’ highest priority. On Wednesday reports emerged of a private plane leaving Los Angeles and bound for Toronto. The Internet tracked the Raptors’ private plane from Los Angeles to Toronto, which got the media on the case.
It got to a point where a local cable TV station sent a helicopter to the Toronto airport to broadcast live footage of the Raptors plane. The helicopter even followed the SUVs as they left the airport and headed downtown. It did not take long for a crowd to gather outside the hotel, with no real indication of whether Kawhi was there at all.
Some might have found this crazy, wild or absurd. Maybe fun. But one thing was agreed on: No one had seen anything like this in this city before.
Many pundits started drawing more assumptions about Kawhi’s thought process. The common theory was that the Raptors were going to Los Angeles to make their sales pitch to Kawhi. Teams typically come to a player’s home to make their case. A player doesn’t come to a team’s home court.
So, if Leonard was in the plane landing in Toronto, it stood to reason that he wasn’t here to tell them he was going to the L.A. Clippers or the Lakers, where he could play close to home. He was here to put the final language on a contract spelling out the terms of returning to Toronto. That’s the working theory, anyway.
Jalen Rose, former pro basketball player and current ESPN analyst, added to the Toronto storyline when he appeared on ESPN’s Get Up to say: “What I’m 99% hearing is that Kawhi Leonard will be returning to Toronto and signing a two-year contract.”
That two-year deal makes sense because, after two years, Leonard would have 10 years in the league and be able to maximize his earnings by signing a super-max contract for 35% of a team’s cap.
Nobody, of course, knows for sure. The Raptors have been tight-lipped through the whole process, and even seasoned journalists have commented that there are few leaks to be had from the Toronto executive branch or below.
The truth of the matter is that while Kawhi Leonard can agree to terms with the Raptors now, nothing official can be signed until Saturday, July 6.
So, fans in Toronto and across the country will likely remain in a holding pattern for several more days.
Until then, expect more lunacy surrounding Kawhi Leonard sightings and speculation over whether the Raptors, or someone else, will win the Kawhi Sweepstakes.