Take a deep breath, Toronto Raptors fans. The Raptors have pulled ahead of the San Antonio Spurs as betting favourites for where Kawhi Leonard will play in 2018-19, according to OddsShark.
Updated odds on which team Kawhi Leonard will play for next season (@betmybookie):
— OddsShark (@OddsShark) July 12, 2018
Excluding the “field” option, the Los Angeles Lakers and Clippers rank third and fourth on the list while the Philadelphia 76ers and Boston Celtics are tied for fifth.
Leonard’s relationship with the Spurs has grown sour over the past year due in large part to communication issues between the team and its superstar over injury management. The drama led to Leonard reportedly requesting a trade out of San Antonio this summer.
Toronto has been linked to Leonard in recent days, with Tim Bontemps of the Washington Post stating the Raptors have “generated buzz” in a potential trade.
Speaking on Sportsnet 590 The FAN’s Good Show Wednesday, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst cited three reasons why the Raptors could be serious players in the Leonard trade market:
1) Toronto boasts an impressive crop of young, affordable talent that could be enticing to the Spurs.
2) The Raptors may see a window opening to win the Eastern Conference with LeBron James moving to the Los Angeles Lakers. The James-led Cleveland Cavaliers have eliminated the Raptors in each of the past three post-seasons, so even a one-year rental of Leonard could lead Masai Ujiri and Co. to pull the trigger.
3) Boston and Philadelphia, two other rumoured Leonard suitors, may not be willing to include any of their prime, can’t-miss youngsters in a possible trade package. The Raptors don’t have any developing players that would be considered untouchable.
Leonard appeared in just nine games last season but is one of the top two-way players in the NBA and a legitimate MVP candidate when healthy. He can opt out of his contract and become a free agent at the end of the 2018-19 season.