Shortly after the blockbuster trade that sent Kawhi Leonard from the San Antonio Spurs to the Toronto Raptors last June, reports quickly circulated that the superstar wing was disinterested in competing north of the border.
His uncle, Dennis Robertson, recently told Yahoo Sports' Chris Haynes that Leonard's mindset at the time had little to do with him not wanting to play for Toronto - a city he's seemingly grown fond of.
"When you are initially traded somewhere you didn’t asked to be, you don’t want to accept it,” Robertson said. "But once you get through that period, the focus then turns to giving your all and performing at a high level.
"It never had anything to do with the city of Toronto. It wasn’t. Toronto is a beautiful city. Kawhi has often spoke highly of Toronto. It’s a beautiful place. That was just an initial reaction, which is normal. But we’re enjoying this run and looking forward to the Finals."
The 27-year-old forward will be one of the Association's most sought-after free agents this summer following what's already been an historic playoff run. With the Raptors set for their first-ever Finals appearance after defeating the Milwaukee Bucks in Game 6 on Saturday, Robertson says Leonard's attention is squarely on the Golden State Warriors and not his long-term future.
"I can’t get into other free agents and other teams, but for Kawhi, he’s going to take it one day and one game at a time," he said. "We have a championship opportunity in front of us. We’re not thinking about free agency; it’s the Warriors (right now). Once we get through the season, we’ll turn our attention to free agency. But we’re just having fun right now. This has been a great year."
Leonard is averaging a staggering 31.2 points on 50.7 percent shooting in 18 appearances this postseason, along with 8.8 boards, 3.8 assists, and 1.6 steals. He was recently named a member of the All-NBA second team and All-NBA defensive second team.
The Raptors will have a leg up on the competition in free agency by being able to offer Leonard approximately $190 million over five years while other suitors can only reach approximately $140 million over four.