After the first few days of free agency, most of the big-named players already have made their decisions of where they’re going to be playing next season and beyond. Kawhi Leonard is the last superstar to decide where he will be playing. His choices have been narrowed down to the Lakers, Clippers, and Raptors. Although whichever team he lands on would be a title contender, here’s why I think he should re-sign with the Toronto Raptors.
Kawhi Leonard, fresh off of one of the greatest playoff runs we’ve ever seen and winning his second championship and Finals MVP, has the entire country of Canada in the palm of his hands. Think about this; it’s not like Kawhi Leonard has an entire state, or city, in the palm of his hands. No, he has an entire freaking country. He brought the Raptors their first title in team history, and one the fans and country will never forget. He’s already been offered free food, and even trips, for the rest of his life if he stays in Toronto. It doesn’t like a lot, but the people of Canada are doing their part in trying to keep Kawhi.
If Kawhi returns to the Raptors, they’re immediately the favorites to win the championship next season. Forget about the Lakers or the Bucks or whoever you think will win it all. If Kawhi goes back to Toronto with an almost identical team coming off a championship season, there would be nobody better than them. They already have the chemistry and know what it takes to win it all.
Although the Raptors didn’t have to deal with a healthy KD or Klay Thompson for half of the Finals, they still proved they could beat any team in the league. And now that the Warriors lost KD, and the league is seemingly wide open, this would be the Raptors title to lose, in my opinion.
If Kawhi goes to the Clippers, that’s cool. The Clippers were the 8th seed last year that could’ve been a top-4 seed. They took a healthy Golden State to six games in the first round of the playoffs. With most of their roster still intact, all they need is a superstar to take them to the next level. The Clippers would be immediate title contenders, and to some, the favorites to win it all next year.
My only wish is that he doesn’t sign with the Lakers. Now I’m not saying this to be a hater or to say Kawhi would ruin the NBA (which he probably would). I’m saying this because the league is finally steering away from superteams. What superteams are there in the NBA now? It’s turning into a two-superstar league, meaning there are only two superstars on a team instead of the three or four we’ve seen over the past few years.
If Kawhi signed with LeBron and AD in Los Angeles, they would, without a doubt, be heavy favorites to win the NBA championship. They would be at the top of the food chain and be the team to beat. Having three top-5 players on the same team would be ridiculous.
Kawhi proved he can win a title on his own. He doesn’t need LeBron or Anthony Davis to help him win. If he goes to the Clippers, he’d be the man there, and the team would be similar to the Raptors last season; one superstar that’s surrounded by a bunch of great role players and above-average players. He could turn them into the Raptors and bring LA a championship. He doesn’t need to join two other superstars to win, he can do it on his own.
Although I’d love Kawhi to get out of the Eastern Conference, staying in Toronto would be the best move for him. If he wants to continuously be in contention for an NBA championship and be the man on his own team, Toronto is the place to be. Although the East has gotten stronger over the years, the West has also gotten stronger, so maybe staying in the East at least one more year wouldn’t be a bad choice.
Kawhi doesn’t need another superstar to win championships. For the sake of his legacy, I want him to win titles on his own, and not on a team where people may put asterisks around the team’s name when they win a championship. If Kawhi wants to go down as one of the greatest to ever play this game, he needs to continue his own legacy and leave no doubt in people’s minds that he was better than everyone else, and not the one to join superteams to win more championships.
Photo: Gregory Shamus/Getty Images