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Kawhi Leonard Decision Might Not be For a “Few Days” per Jabari Young

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An actual, plugged-in reporter has an update of sorts on the Kawhi Leonard situation.

Toronto Raptors hold their victory parade after beating the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images

We’ve had far too many non-update “updates” from people over the past few days on Kawhi Leonard’s free agent decision, made by everyone from racist Redditors to obnoxious Twitter personalities to even some of the best reporters covering the NBA. However, a couple hours ago, we got something that be might akin to a real update, and it comes from someone who covered Kawhi for years in San Antonio: Jabari Young of the Athletic. Basically, he’s been told that Kawhi’s decision won’t be tonight, and might not be for a few days, as he and his team are discussing the options. Also, apparently no 2 year deals have been discussed.

While this doesn’t have any short term implications beyond cooling some of the fervor on Leonard that’s been raging the past couple days, it is insightful in other ways. One, the lack of short deals would seem to hurt the Raptors — it’s always been assumed that Kawhi would want to go there on a short deal to try to win more rings before going to LA in a couple years. There’s never been a mention of him signing a longterm deal in Toronto, so while it could still happen, this update would seem to somewhat lessen the odds he returns there.

Second, this idea of Kawhi waiting a few days paired with the knowledge that he’s been seeking a second star to play with in LA might just give the edge to the Clippers. It could be that Kawhi legitimately just needs time to process the pitches and make his choice. However, it seems possible that Kawhi is waiting for one of the teams to make a move to seal the deal — and the only team that could do that is the Clips. The Lakers already cashed in all their assets for Anthony Davis, and have no cap space to sign anyone of note that would change Kawhi’s mind beyond Davis or Lebron James. The Raptors have the assets to make a trade, but they just won a championship with their roster, and are not going to trade their best asset in Siakam. No, if Kawhi is waiting on a team, he’s waiting on the Clippers to trade for a second star.

Now, making that deal could be difficult (or the Clippers would have made it already), but if the Clippers know they have Kawhi’s guarantee that he’ll sign if they make it, they will be empowered to get it done. There aren’t many stars available, but the Clippers’ front office is smart and creative; they will find a way to get a deal done if needed.

This could be reading way too much into things, but my take on the situation is that Kawhi wants to go home to LA, but doesn’t want the attention of the Lakers, or the frontrunning label that will be placed on him if he joins a team with two other superstars. However, he’s unsure about joining the Clippers, even with their stacked cast of role players and a great front office, as they don’t have a true second banana for him. If so, it would be not be surprising if the Clippers made a deal in the next day or two for a big-name player, and for Kawhi to join shortly thereafter. We will just have to wait and see.