The Toronto Raptors are pulling out all the stops when it comes to Kawhi Leonard. I mean, he’s stuck in Toronto at least for the season, but if the Raptors want to keep him around, they’re going to have to keep their foot on the gas. Raptors training camp starts in just over a week, and President Masai Ujiri isn’t saying what kind of shape Leonard will be in by that time. Many, in Toronto, believe that they are coming out ahead in this particular deal. But are they? Especially if Leonard’s heart isn’t in it. For the first time since the trade, Leonard issued the following public statement:
“I have been going back and forth the last few weeks trying to figure out the right things to say, and it comes down to two simple words: Thank you. My family and I want to say thank you to the entire Spurs organisation and the people and fans of San Antonio. Through all the ups and downs – I’m glad there were many more ups! – I’ll never forget what we have shared and accomplished together. While I’m looking forward to the next chapter in my career, I’ll always remember the city and the people of San Antonio.”
Leonard, who will be a free agent in 2019, is interested in winning. Which means, he likely won’t stick it out in Toronto for very long. The only reason they have a shot at the Eastern Conference finals is because LeBron took his “talents” to Los Angeles. That does sound a bit harsh, but its the truth. Yes, they made it pretty close to winning the East, but could never make it past Cleveland, and in some years, got knocked out pretty early on. But that is definitely an option for them this year. If… and this is a big ask… they can do it right. They fired head coach Dwayne Casey after last season, and now have Nick Nurse leading the team.
But is that enough to keep Leonard? Well, they have Kyle Lowry, and while that might not mean much, they are trying to build their roster. In a deal that was announced this weekend, Toronto has signed forward Deng Adel. Adel is only 21, but he is a staggering 6’7″. He has spent the last three years playing basketball at Louisville where he averaged 11.2 points and 2.1 rebounds per games. What’s more impressive is that he shot 35% from the three-point line during his time with Louisville.
The Raptors are certainly trying to make the most of their roster because, of course, they want… better yet… need talent to surround Leonard if they want a shot at the Eastern Conference title. The big question is – if they’re able to climb that mountain, will they have a shot at a Championship Ring? While I don’t want to sound negative, the short answer is no. I mean, they’re up against the likes of LeBron James, James Harden, Steph Curry, Kevin Durrant, Chris Paul – just to name a few. The race for both conferences will be an interesting one this year, but I will be watching the East for sure.