Playing north of the border certainly isn't what Kawhi Leonard had envisioned for himself heading into next season. However, now that the earth-shattering trade that will send him to the Toronto Raptors is complete, it sounds like the 27-year-old forward is going to make the best of his situation.
The Raptors have reportedly been in communication with Leonard's camp since the blockbuster deal with the San Antonio Spurs became official, with the two-time Defensive Player of the Year reportedly starting to "warm to the idea" of playing with the franchise in 2018-19, sources close to the situation told ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.
Leonard's long-term outlook hasn't changed, though, at least for the time being. His eyes remain set on heading home to Los Angeles as an unrestricted free agent next summer, where he can join LeBron James and the Lakers or the Clippers.
The Raptors were a 59-win team last season, locking up the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference with a four-game advantage over the Boston Celtics before eventually getting swept in the second round by LeBron's Cleveland Cavaliers. With a superstar upgrade, and James now out West, the door is open for Toronto to advance to its first-ever Finals, and that's part of the reason why Leonard is willing to make what could be his only year with the Raptors work out.
Despite a previous report that Leonard "has no desire" to be a Raptor, with the possibility that he could even sit out the whole season, the two-time All-Star reportedly intends to play and will be at training camp.
The Raptors now have a year to convince Leonard that Toronto is a viable destination for him to play out his prime years. The team can offer him a five-year, $190-million contract this offseason, as opposed to the four-year, $141-million deal he'd only be able to get elsewhere.