Kawhi Leonard leaving Raptors for Clippers fresh off NBA championship win: reports
A person familiar with the negotiations said the Clippers will be landing Leonard as a free agent after they acquire Paul George from the Oklahoma City Thunder in a massive trade for players and draft picks.
George will be traded for at least four first-round picks, according to the person who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity early Saturday because none of the moves have been finalized. Leonard is said to have made his decision to sign with the Clippers after the team swung the deal to land George, the person said.
Leonard going to the Clippers means that for the first time, a reigning NBA Finals MVP will be changing teams before the next season. Leonard was also pursued by the Los Angeles Lakers and, of course, the Raptors.
The most the Clippers can offer Leonard is $142 million over four years, which is the deal he is expected to sign. Players can sign with new teams as early as noon Eastern on Saturday.
Leonard was arguably the most coveted prize in this year’s free agency and met with several teams including the Raptors, Lakers and Clippers in his hometown of Los Angeles.
WATCH: Danny Green announces he’s signing with Lakers following Kawhi’s decision, says thank you to Toronto
The Lakers didn’t wait long before starting to move on from their quest for Leonard. Danny Green announced that he is signing a two-year deal with the Lakers, meaning he, too, is leaving Toronto.
“Kawhi’s made his decision, seems like the announcement is out now,” Green said, as he confirmed he’s heading to Los Angeles.
“I would like to announce proudly that for the next two years, I will be teaming up with my new teammates in L.A., the L.A. Lakers,” he said in the video.
“I had a great time in the city of Toronto, loved the organization, thank you guys, thank you to my teammates, thank you to the fans.”
Green’s announcement came amid several reports that Leonard, the NBA Finals MVP, will join the Clippers.
ESPN reporter Adrian Wojnarowski cited NBA sources saying that Leonard was joining the Clippers.
The L.A. Clippers would not confirm this to Global News on Friday night.
Wojnarowski went on to report that the Clippers are also acquiring Paul George from the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The Athletic also reported that both players are going to the Clippers.
Leonard was recruiting him to come and play with him, he added.
Leonard will sign a four-year, $142 million contract with the Clippers, Wojnarowski reported.
So ends a one-season tenure in Toronto that saw the Raptors – and Canada – capture their first NBA championship.
Wojnarowski said Leonard wasn’t interested in building a “Super Team” with the Lakers which would have seen him join LeBron James.
WATCH: 2 Canadians make pitch for Kawhi Leonard to stay in Toronto from on top of Kilimanjaro
The decision reportedly came after Torontonians made several overtures to Leonard to stay in the Six.
Toronto Mayor John Tory promoted a petition asking Leonard “politely” to remain in the city.
Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri released a statement on Saturday, thanking Leonard and Green.
“We are very thankful for the year that Kawhi and Danny played with us here in Toronto, and I know the city and the entire country of Canada are grateful for everything they did to help us to win our first NBA Championship,” Ujiri said. “On behalf of the Raptors, I say a very heartfelt thank you to Kawhi and to Danny, and we send them and their families nothing but good wishes.”
“As an organization, the Raptors will focus on the future and continue our pursuit of a second championship.”
–— With files from Hannah Jackson and the Associated Press.
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