All the noise about Kawhi Leonard leaving Toronto might be just that. The Raptors forward was sitting in the stands at Thursday’s Angels-Blue Jays game and looked to be as comfortable as ever.
Leonard was the king of the ballpark and received a standing ovation as he walked with his girlfriend to his seats in the front row, within spitting distance of the batter’s box. Fitted with a blue ManMyths cap, the impending free agent appeared to be rooting on the hometown team. However, he was caught snapping a photo of Angels slugger Mike Trout when he came to the plate. Leonard, of course, is a Los Angeles native and has been linked to both the Lakers and Clippers.
The NBA Finals MVP has been radio silent on his plans for next season. Free agency begins at 6 p.m. on June 30 and Leonard will have his choice of suitors, including the Raptors. The Blue Jays fans certainly rolled out the red carpet for him at Thursday’s game. The stoic Leonard seemed to enjoy it, even cracking a wry smile.
The question is, does he want to stay in Toronto and attempt the repeat? Or does he want to move home to Los Angeles and cozy up with Trout? No one seems to be able to crack Leonard’s emotionless exterior, not even his own family. Two controversial social media posts from his cousin and sister claiming he was headed to the Lakers were never confirmed.
For now, Leonard is just a guy enjoying life. He’s the biggest star in Canada — and, yes, that includes Drake. He’s also been seen dining at the Cactus Club and visiting Niagara Falls this week. It seems he’s really breathing new life into his old college catchphrase: Board Man Gets Paid.
“I used to say that back when I was in high school and college,” Leonard told The Athletic. “Just wanting to get to this league, just — it’s about working hard, basically, outworking the opponent. Rebounds help you win games, big rebounds, offensive rebounds, limiting the team to one shot. And that used to be our motto, just some of us that were in college that was trying to get to this point.”
The very latest rumors, as in within 24 hours, run the gamut on his next destination. One report from ESPN’s Brian Windhorst says the Clippers are “hyperventilating.” Another one from Deadspin, via Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma, claims the Lakers are a lock. And a third one from WFAN in New York says not to rule out the Knicks.
For now, Leonard is still in Toronto and enjoying his reign as the King of the North. He’s the “Emperor of Canada,” according to Shaquille O’Neal. Why would he want to leave town now? One more iron for the fire, too. On Thursday, the Blue Jays beat the Angels, 7-5. Pretty good karma, Toronto.