The Toronto Raptors recently made a big play in their quest to keep Kawhi Leonard in town long term. According to an ESPN report, the team hired Jeremy Castleberry, who played with “close friend” Leonard in high school and college and was formerly a part of the San Antonio Spurs staff, to join their coaching staff. 

Over the course of the season, that move may end up helping the Raptors keep Leonard around, but as of right now it appears that Leonard’s first choice is still to leave for Los Angeles in the summer of 2019. Adrian Wojnarowski, reported that Leonard wants to play for either the Lakers or Clippers. Via ESPN:

The Raptors would be able to offer Leonard a five-year, $190 million contract next summer. If Leonard leaves the Raptors, he could sign a four-year, $141 million deal with a team with the available salary-cap space.

So far, Leonard’s preference is to sign in Los Angeles with either the Lakers or Clippers next season, sources told Wojnarowski.

With Leonard and the team still not even together for training camp, it’s no surprise that hiring his friend to join the coaching staff hasn’t all of a sudden changed Leonard’s mind. And in the end it may not be enough, but the Raptors’ hope is that they can sell Leonard on their culture. For that to work, though, they actually have to get the team together and start winning games. 

Of course, with Leonard, we may never really get a straight answer until he puts pen to paper next summer, but it’s probably best to just assume Leonard wants to play in Los Angeles until we hear otherwise. 

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