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#pounditFriday, December 3, 2021

Articles tagged: Toronto Raptors

Report: Kawhi Leonard seriously considering staying with Raptors

Kawhi Leonard is set to officially decline his player option to become a free agent, and the Toronto Raptors may have done enough to convince him to stay.

According to Chris B. Haynes of Yahoo Sports, Leonard will officially decline his player option, as expected. However, sources told Haynes that Leonard is “seriously considering” re-signing with Toronto despite widespread interest from elsewhere.

The Raptors have one major advantage, as they are the only team that can offer Leonard a five year, $190 million supermax contract. He also had a year to get familiar with the city and won an NBA title as the team’s unquestioned leader, adding another Finals MVP trophy to his cabinet.

The belief has been that Leonard would like to return to his native California, likely with the Los Angeles Clippers. However, they may not be the favorite after all after his wildly successful year in Canada.

Nick Nurse weighs in on potential Raptors’ White House visit

Nick Nurse

It’s not clear if the Toronto Raptors would get a White House invitation no matter what, and it’s even less clear if the team would accept it given the controversial nature of President Donald Trump.

It’s customary for the White House to invite champions of the four major sports teams to a visit at the White House, and the bulk of Toronto’s roster is American-born. However, the precedent is mixed, as the Raptors are the first Canadian team to win a title since 1993, and the Toronto Blue Jays are the only Canadian team to get a visit after winning the 1992 World Series.

Raptors coach Nick Nurse seemed to indicate that a presidential visit may not be in the cards, suggesting that the team is already planning to visit Prime Minister Justin Trudeau but has yet to hear from the White House.

The Golden State Warriors didn’t visit the White House either, mostly because President Trump didn’t want them there over their criticism of him and his policies. It’s doubtful that the Raptors would even be interested in a visit, and it seems off the table anyway.

Report: Kawhi Leonard likely to choose between Raptors, Clippers

There are sure to be more than a handful of teams that try to sign Kawhi Leonard when the NBA Finals MVP becomes a free agent this summer, but the sweepstakes may already been down to just two.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski said on “Get Up” Tuesday morning that the Los Angeles Lakers have very little chance of signing Leonard, both because of their financial situation and because Leonard does not want to be the third guy behind LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Rather, Wojnarowski notes that Leonard is “focused” on the Clippers, and he will likely choose between them and the Toronto Raptors.

“The Clippers are poised to be able to lure him away from Toronto,” Wojnarowski said. “This will be a Raptors-Clippers fight down the end. He may take meetings with more teams, but it’s not certain he’d even take a meeting with the Lakers right now.”

The Raptors held their championship parade on Monday, and even one of Leonard’s teammates did everything he could to have the fans pressure Kawhi into staying. It was initially believed that Toronto would only be getting Leonard as a one-year rental after they acquired him in a trade with the San Antonio Spurs, but winning a championship may have changed that. Leonard’s reported lack of interest in playing for the Lakers may explain why they are said to be targeting a different top free agent after trading for Davis.

Magic president has harsh assessment of NBA GMs after Raptors’ title win

Toronto Raptors

The Toronto Raptors managed to claim an NBA championship without a single lottery pick on the roster, the first team to do so in the lottery era. To one team president, that’s an indictment of every other NBA general manager.

Orlando Magic president Jeff Weltman said Monday that the Raptors’ lottery-free title is a sign that he and his fellow GMs “need to do a better job” at identifying talent in the NBA Draft.

It may be a touch unfair. The Raptors used former lottery picks DeMar DeRozan and Jonas Valanciunas to acquire Kawhi Leonard and Marc Gasol, respectively. It also may prove something of a fluke — the league’s best players still overwhelmingly go in the lottery and are almost always a key component of a championship team. Sure, there are always hidden gems in the draft, but as this year has shown us, the lottery still rules the league.

Warriors congratulate Raptors in full page newspaper ad

Warriors logo

The Golden State Warriors pulled off a classy gesture in congratulating the Toronto Raptors on their NBA championship.

The Warriors took out a full page ad in Monday’s Toronto Star, offering their congratulations on the Raptors’ accomplishment.

The fact that the Warriors did this on the Raptors’ parade day is probably no coincidence, either. It’s a neat thing to do and a fine gesture from an organization that clearly has legitimate respect for the team that dethroned their dynasty. It’s also a sign that the Warriors are happy to move on from some of the fan-related controversies that popped up during the Finals.

Look: Fake Kawhi Leonard signs autographs at Raptors parade

Toronto Raptors fans proved during the team’s championship run that they are arguably the most passionate in the NBA, but there are still some of them who can’t tell the real Kawhi Leonard from an impostor.

Before and during the Raptors’ championship parade celebration in Toronto on Monday, a man wearing a Leonard jersey and pretending to be the NBA Finals MVP went around posing for photos and signing autographs for fans. While a lot of people knew it wasn’t the real Kawhi, some clearly had no idea.

Fans may have had a tough time identifying Leonard with the way his personality seemed to change after the NBA Finals, but we can assure you he is about a head taller than fake Kawhi. He was also on a championship float rolling through the streets, not walking around by himself. But, hey, when your team wins its first title in franchise history, even fake star players get to feel the love.

Kyle Lowry wears throwback Damon Stoudamire jersey to Raptors parade

The Toronto Raptors won their first ever championship this year, but Kyle Lowry wants to make sure fans don’t forget some of the players that put the franchise on the map prior to the title run.

The Raptors held their highly anticipated championship parade on Monday, and Kyle Lowry wore a throwback Damon Stoudamire jersey for it.

Stoudamire, who was teammates with Lowry for a brief time with the Memphis Grizzlies, was Toronto’s starting point from when the franchise was founded in 1995 to 1998. He was named the NBA Rookie of the Year in his first season and averaged 19.5 points and 8.7 assists per game in two-plus seasons with the Raptors before being traded to the Portland Trail Blazers.

Most of the talk surrounding the Raptors has been about Kawhi Leonard and the unique ways fans are worshipping him, and that is certainly well deserved. However, you have to admire Lowry’s tribute to the first great point guard the team ever had.

Raptors fans camp out a day early ahead of championship parade

Toronto Raptors We the North

The extent to which Toronto Raptors fans are falling in love with the team continues to astound.

The Raptors are celebrating their first NBA title in franchise history with a championship parade on Monday. As of Sunday, fans had already begun camping out for it, as video from Sportsnet’s Faizal Khamisa showed.

Toronto is already preparing for 1.5-2 million fans to attend the championship parade and is looking forward to the greatest party the city has ever seen.

The Raptors were setting TV records throughout their championship run, which culminated with Game 6 of the NBA Finals drawing a staggering 82 share in the Toronto market.

Fred VanVleet has awesome quote about what Raptors will do if Leonard leaves

Toronto Raptors guard Fred VanVleet knows as well as everyone else that Kawhi Leonard may leave Toronto this offseason, and he’s prepared for the possibility.

VanVleet said Sunday that he’ll have a simple solution if Leonard departs for another team: they’re just going to beat him.

It’s the best attitude VanVleet and his teammates could possibly take. Leonard may well leave, but it’s clear that the Raptors don’t want this to be a one-off either way. VanVleet played a key role in the Finals and can certainly score and come up big in key moments, as can many of his teammates, and he clearly has the attitude to match.

Nick Nurse believes Raptors can give Kawhi Leonard ‘good deal’

The big question that lingers around the Toronto Raptors after winning the NBA title is whether they will be able to retain forward Kawhi Leonard.

Coach Nick Nurse believes that the Raptors can make a compelling case to the star free agent, and they can give him the deal he wants in a place where he’s beloved by the fans.

There is one disadvantage the Raptors have that they may not be able to overcome: geography. The Los Angeles Clippers have made no secret of the fact that they want to bring Leonard back home to Southern California this summer, and he may be interested. Nurse and the Raptors will be desperate to convince Leonard that he has a good gig on a contender right now, and there’s no reason to change that.