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Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Did Kawhi Leonard tip hand about leaving Raptors in free agency?

The way Kawhi Leonard phrased an answer during an interview with ESPN’s Scott Van Pelt after winning the NBA championship on Thursday night has some wondering whether he tipped his hand about his free agency plans. Specifically, some think the way he called Toronto “them” instead of “us” means he is likely headed elsewhere.

About an hour after winning the game, Leonard joined Van Pelt on ESPN for an interview.

“What’s the most satisfying thing for you, to have brought what you brought to this group who had never done it, and then to get there. For you personally, what’s the most satisfying, Kawhi?” Van Pelt asked.

“Just making history here, bringing the organization their first championship. It’s just something that the Raptors could build on, that we all could build on. That was my goal. I wanted to get them to the Finals their first year. That was all our goal. Obviously once we got here was the next step to win it all,” Leonard said.

Here’s the video:

Though the argument that he was tipping his plans is worth debating, I think there is another way to look at his answer.

Leonard was asked to talk about what he brought to the organization as an outsider, a new player coming in to join the team from San Antonio. Because Van Pelt framed the question in that manner, Leonard may have gone back in time and began describing how he felt before he joined the team, before the season started. Then once he talked about making the Finals, he changed to his present mindset and talked about the Raptors as “we.”

There have been other times during the postseason that led us to believe Leonard would be leaving Toronto, so it wouldn’t be a surprise if he did. But the way he answered the question does not necessarily indicate he is gone. Either way, Raptors fans can’t be too mad considering he brought them their first championship in franchise history.



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