Kawhi Leonard‘s free agency held up a lot of other deals as his three primary suitors, the Lakers, Clippers and Raptors, pushed for his services. The two-time NBA Finals MVP ended up choosing the Clippers after the organization managed to swing a trade for Paul George.
Subsequent reports have suggested the other two teams felt that Leonard and/or his representatives led on teams during the recruitment process. On the day he and George were introduced at a press conference, a more talkative than usual Leonard set the record straight to Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes.
“I didn’t lead anyone on,” Leonard said. “I took my time in free agency, as I should, to make sure I made the best decision for myself and my family. I feel like some of the media coverage over it made it feel that way, with people saying I’m signing with Toronto 99 percent or I’m going to the Lakers 99 percent. I don’t ever want to have that bad karma come back on me trying to make the Lakers miss out on players they should have gotten or vice-versa with the Raptors.”
With his decision, Leonard will become the first player to win an NBA Finals MVP and play for a different team the following season. Leonard’s lone campaign in Toronto was a successful one as the two-time Defensive Player of the Year helped the Raptors advance to and win the first NBA championship in franchise history.