Kawhi Leonard ‘open’ to Raptors extension
Kawhi Leonard had been considered a certainty to arrive in Los Angeles this summer, having informed the San Antonio Spurs of his desire to be traded following a bizarre season with the Western Conference outfit last year.
The 27-year-old made just nine appearances amid tension with the Spurs’ medical staff over a mystery quadriceps injury he believed doctors had initially misdiagnosed and mistreated.
Having sought a second opinion away from the team in New York, Leonard’s rift with the Spurs eventually became irreversible as he made clear his intention to turn down the chance to sign a $219m five-year supermax contract in order to seek a move this summer.
Leonard, a Los Angeles native, was believed to favour a trade to the Clippers or Lakers – but it was the Toronto Raptors who swooped to meet the Spurs’ asking price, sending the two-time Defensive Player of the Year to the Canadian outfit in the most surprising move of the summer.
Sources close to the player initially suggested he was unhappy with the move, with whispers even claiming he would consider sitting out for another year before joining the Lakers in free agency next summer.
But more recently, Leonard appears to be warming to his new home – and a recent report from San Antonio Express-News beat reporter Jabari Young claims the Lakers’ pursuit of the All-Star forward next summer could be anything but straight-forward.
Young said: “Based off of me talking to people within his circle, they’re going to go into this thing with an open mind and give this thing every last opportunity to work.
“And at the end of the day, if that’s the case, it would be great if he stays. Obviously, I think part of his mind, yes, let’s keep it real: I think he still feels like L.A. might be the destination, but the same time, he plans to go into this thing with an open mind, giving it every single shot in the world to make it work.”
James Harden previews Carmelo Anthony’s Houston arrival
Houston Rockets guard James Harden said he is excited at the prospect of working with 10-time All-Star Carmelo Anthony next season after the 34-year-old veteran arrived on a one-year deal this summer.
Anthony’s arrival in Houston was achieved via a complex three-team trade that saw him sent to the Atlanta Hawks from the Oklahoma City Thunder before his $27.9m expiring contract was bought out, allowing him to become a free agent.
The former New York Knicks man endured a season to forget with the Thunder as he attempted to play a less familiar role alongside fellow superstars Russell Westbrook and Paul George.
In 78 regular season games, Anthony averaged a career-worst .404 shooting percentage and produced 16.2 points-per-game – the worst mark of his 15-year NBA tenure.
But reigning MVP Harden believes Houston is the perfect destination for the scoring forward, telling the Players Tribune: “Coming off an MVP season, now you got to add Carmelo Anthony, it’s going to be easy.
“The transition is easy. When you got that many talented, high-IQ guys around who love to communicate and love to figure things out, the job is easy.
“Everybody in the world knows what Carmelo brings, how gifted and talented he is.
“He still has a lot more to go. If he comes to the Rockets, we’ll get the best out of him.”
Dwyane Wade set for Miami Heat meeting
Dwyane Wade will make a decision on his future in the NBA in the near future – but first, the 36-year-old will meet with Miami Heat general manager Pat Riley.
That is according to AP reporter Tim Reynolds, who quoted the 73-year-old as saying: “We want him back.”
Wade is a Miami Heat legend, having spent 14 of his 15 seasons playing for the Eastern Conference outfit.
The 36-year-old veteran, who is currently an unrestricted free agent, was reported to be a top target for Chinese basketball side, the Zhejiang Golden Bulls this summer.
But he is believed to be considering retirement if he decides against re-signing with the Heat this summer.
In 67 contests split between the Cavaliers and Heat last season, Wade averaged a career-low 11.4 points to go along with 3.8 rebounds and 3.4 assists.