By Mark Strotman | | 4 mins
Which NBA Team Will Kawhi Leonard Play for Next Season?
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Kawhi Leonard’s historical postseason run combined with Kevin Durant’s devastating Achilles tear has made the former the most coveted free agent this summer.
After leading the Toronto Raptors to an NBA title and winning Finals MVP, Leonard will have no shortage of suitors. A handful of obvious teams have positioned themselves as favorites for NBA betting fans to take note of.
Here they are:
Raptors the Favorites for Leonard
Has an NBA champion and Finals MVP ever left in free agency the following season? Leonard may make an odd sort of history if he does just that this summer. But there’s a reason the Raptors are favorites to retain Leonard at -139 on 888Sport.
We saw it with Paul George a season ago, when he was dealt from Indiana to Oklahoma City with a year remaining on his contract and wound up signing long-term with the Thunder after falling in love with the city and teammates.
Leonard obviously enjoyed success in Toronto – though admittedly it’s tough to get a read on how much he likes the city – and if he wants to contend for a title, it’s hard to find a better fit than Toronto.
The Raptors, of course, own Leonard’s Bird Rights and can offer him a five-year max contract. No other team can do that, so the money would be with Toronto.
Clippers will be Strong Contenders
The Clippers have been linked to Leonard for quite some time. Leonard is from Los Angeles, the Clippers will have max cap space and no other mega-stars, meaning Leonard would be the alpha there. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski said his free agency “will be a Raptors-Clippers fight to the end.”
The Raptors might give Leonard the best chance to win, but the Clippers aren’t far behind in terms of supporting cast.
Lou Williams, Montrezl Harrell, Danilo Gallinari, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Patrick Beverley won 48 games a year ago in the West. With Leonard, they’re arguably the best team in the West. They’re good value at +150 considering how long the Clippers have been linked to Leonard.
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Lakers, Knicks both Dark Horses
There’s another team in Los Angeles, of course. The Lakers are going to be on every free agent’s radar after they traded for Anthony Davis to team up with LeBron James. Leonard wouldn’t have the spotlight to himself with the Lakers but he’d also be an easy favorite to repeat as an NBA champ with the league’s most storied franchise.
For what it’s worth, Damon Jones – a good friend of LeBron James – said the Lakers are very much in play for Leonard.
Still, the Lakers are +700 underdogs because they have a difficult path to acquire maximum cap space – they would need to wait until July 30 to complete the Davis trade, though that seems unlikely to happen – and it’s hard to see Leonard take a discount after the 2019 season he just finished.
We have to mention the Knicks here because they do have max cap space and are the largest market in basketball. They’re a prime destination for a free agent, and with Durant injured the Knicks are reportedly going to go hard after Leonard. The Knicks could actually add two max free agents in free agency, which could interest Leonard in building his own superteam.