Kawhi Leonard hits free-agency in a few months and, unlike the rest of the players on the market, we have a pretty good idea of where he's headed.
We know he likes the idea of playing at home in Los Angeles. We know that he wants to win, and we know that he desires to be the #1 star. Thus, the options for Kawhi's upcoming "availability" aren't very numbered. And, from the minds of NBA executives around the league, there's really only two places he'll go.
The popular opinion among league executives six months before Leonard makes his decision is that he'll choose between the Raptors and the Clippers. If it comes down to those two teams, the chance for Leonard to come home and to stay away from snow could be the Clippers' strongest argument.
Bontemps didn't mention the Lakers who, after holding their all their chips this season, were depending on acquiring at least one star in the summer to come. Unlike the Clippers, however, the presence of LeBron James will make it impossible for Kawhi to have as much control as most think he wants.
Both the Raptors and Clippers have the edge of being a good team with no true superstar, meaning Leonard would easily take the driver's seat.
As the season continues forward, don't expect the Raptors to be sitting on their hands. They'll be doing everything they can to convince Kawhi to stay.
From the moment the Raptors traded for Leonard, they began planning for July 1, when Leonard will hit free agency and Toronto will attempt to convince him to remain the face of this organization. The Raptors will point to all of the details, both on and off the court, that they believe tip the scales in their favor -- details Leonard will have spent an entire season seeing firsthand.
Unfortunately, the Clippers still pose a serious threat to Toronto's long-term plans, for more reasons than one.
When the discussion of where Leonard will play next season inevitably comes up, there are two things that Toronto, no matter how hard it tries, can't provide Leonard: being at home and year-round warm weather. Those are two things the LA Clippers can offer, which is part of why their pursuit of Leonard has drawn so much attention.
It'll be an interesting summer for these teams, to say the least. The Leonard sweepstakes have already proved to be intense, and things will only grow more-so from here. As a two-horse race, there's no telling what might happen between now and July. We only know that both teams are in desperate need of his services.
It'll be up to Kawhi to decide which franchise suits him best, but something tells me not even he knows the answer to that just yet.