As the start of 2019 NBA free agency draws near, the chatter around the Toronto Raptors has been interesting, specifically due to uncertainty around Kawhi Leonard’s future. But while the Raptors are undoubtedly locked in on attempting to convince Leonard to remain in Toronto and help the team push for a repeat after winning the NBA title, the focus goes beyond the star forward.
Specifically, it appears the Raptors are gearing up to “run it back,” which president Masai Ujiri confirmed on Tuesday. According to Michael Grange of Rogers Sportsnet, Ujiri openly stated that the team’s top priority is to bring everyone back. This includes free agents Danny Green and Marc Gasol, who have both been linked to various teams in free agency.
It’s a strong statement from Ujiri just days before free agency is set to get underway. With that said, it’s not surprising, as the Raptors had their most successful season in history and did so while putting together a well-rounded group with impressive upside.
Follow the Heavy NBA Facebook page for all the latest stories, rumors and viral content!
Toronto Raptors’ Free Agency Outlook
Along with Leonard, Gasol also has a player option for the upcoming season, although the former has already declined his. There is a strong belief that the Raptors will be able to bring Leonard back, even if it’s on a short-term contract. Beyond that, Green is a pending free agent with Patrick McCaw and Jeremy Lin along with a few others.
Ujiri addressed Leonard’s future on Tuesday also, and as The Athletic’s Eric Koreen revealed, he’s confident the forward will stay in Toronto but will respect his decision regardless.
The team’s potential push to keep Green and Gasol is noteworthy, as both players logged big minutes during the playoffs. Although the production was hit-or-miss at times, the two players were acquired via trade and proved more than capable of meshing well with the rest of the team’s core. Much of the decision on bringing them back could wind up coming down to money and how their potential free agency markets shape up.
Kawhi Leonard’s Free Agency Down to Raptors or Los Angeles?
While the Los Angeles Lakers have been linked as a suitor for Leonard, the primary focus in the eyes of many analysts has pointed to either the Raptors or Los Angeles Clippers. Leonard’s future is arguably the biggest question mark in free agency, but as The Athletic’s Frank Isola reported, he’s scheduled to meet with the Clippers on July 2.
With the Clippers emerging as a potential top landing spot for Leonard, it’s beginning to look more and more like this may be a two-team race. If that’s the case, then it’s going to be a tough call to make for the Los Angeles native.