As we approach the weekend we still have no decision from Kawhi Leonard as to where he will be playing basketball next year.
It is starting to get a bit frustrating for me. I'm obsessed with basketball, especially the NBA, and this free agency period has been absolutely wild, with Kawhi being the lone exception. Pretty much every other big name free agent has signed, or will officially sign tomorrow. KD and Kyrie are on the Nets. Jimmy Butler is going to Miami. Al Horford is going to Philly. Philly re upped Tobias Harris. Kemba Walker is a Celtic. Utah got Mike Conley and Bojan Bogdonavic. Indiana signed Jeremy Lamb and traded for Malcolm Brogdon. I mean, I'm sure I'm missing someone, but for the most part, the big names, and small names, are off the market. Danny Green and Boogie are still out there, but Kawhi is the biggest of the free agents, and he is taking his sweet time. I mean, I guess I shouldn't be as annoyed as I am. I mean, this is his choice, his decision, and he can do whatever in the hell he wants. He can go anywhere he chooses.
In my lifetime every other big time free agent made their choice fairly quick. LeBron signed with Miami, Cleveland the second time and with the Lakers last year before the Fourth. KD announced on the Fourth that he was leaving OKC for Golden State. When Dwayne Wade left Miami for Chicago, it was done before free agency started. Boogie signed with the Warriors before the Fourth last year. The big guys usually do not take this long to make up their minds.
It actually makes me wonder why he is taking so long. Is it because he is so much different than your average star athlete today? Does he not care about the limelight enough that he really wants to think this thing out? Has he really not made up his mind yet? Has he already made up his mind, and he is just toying with the NBA? Has Adam Silver made a call telling him he really needs to consider the Lakers to make them relevant again? Does Uncle Dennis want him to play somewhere he doesn't want to play next year? Is he going to sign with a surprise team?
I do think all of these are legitimate questions, and with a guy like Kawhi, I don't know that they will ever be truly answered. I think he is taking so long because he is a different dude. I like to believe that he is truly split between the Lakers and Raptors. Hell, I would even go as far to say that the Clippers still have an outside shot. I think he is legit writing a pros and cons list for each team, and pouring over it every night. I think he likes the idea of the Clippers because they are essentially the West's version of the Raptors. Also, it is his home and if he could bring a first title there, like he did for the Raptors, think of the legacy. But, the Clippers, to some, not me because they are currently more relevant, are the second LA team, behind the Lakers.
I think he is considering the Lakers because, again, it is home. But also, it is history and legacy and the ability to play with LeBron and AD. He doesn't seem like the "super team" type guy, but who in the hell knows with him. Maybe he has always wanted to play with LeBron, and AD is just icing on the cake. But, if he does go there, he is third in line behind LeBron and AD. Everyone will talk about him third. Also, it would seem so out of character. I've looked at him as the dynasty killer. The guy that avoids the "super team". He is the guy that wants to beat the best, not join them. And he has done that twice.
And then there is Toronto. Many said he didn't want to play there, that he wouldn't even show up after being traded there. Well, not only did he show up, he won them a title. He hit the crucial buzzer beater against the 76ers. He locked down Giannis in the East Finals. And he put that team on his back and dethroned the Warriors. Pretty much everyone returns from that team, they get OG Anounoby back, Masai Ujiri is staying and he is "the man" on that team. Also, a star player from a title team has never left the year after winning it all. Kawhi could, and would, be the one to change that, but I don't understand why he would. He has it made there, the team is good and he makes them the favorite. But, Toronto is not home, and he already won them a title. He may be looking for the next challenge for him in his career. I simply don't know.
I fear he is going to sign with the Lakers, but I hope he does a one and one deal with the Raptors, and tries to win back to back titles. If he stays in Toronto, they are the favorites. If he goes to the Clippers, they will be one of the favorites. And if he chooses the Lakers, they will be the Vegas favorite, but they will have to scrounge up the rest of that lineup. I'll be anxiously awaiting his decision, but I'm done checking #NBAtwitter and Bleacher Report obsessively. Kawhi is taking his time, so I am not going to wait with bated breath. He could choose today, or it could be another week. We shall see, and wait.
Ty is the Pop Culture editor for SeedSing, the other host of the X Millennial Man Podcast, and the greatest basketball writer on the internet.
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