NBA Analyst On Kawhi: "I Think He's Gone"

Kawhi Leonard is officially a hero in Canada, but he may have just played his last game for the Raptors

After Hours With Amy Lawrence
June 14, 2019 - 8:40 am
Kawhi Leonard NBA Finals

USA Today Images

Categories: 

Kawhi Leonard led the Toronto Raptors to their first NBA title in franchise history Thursday, beating the Warriors, 114-110, in Game 6. He averaged 28.5 points, 9.8 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 2.0 steals in the series, becoming the first player in NBA history to be named Finals MVP in both conferences. In fact, he is just the third player in NBA history to win Finals MVPs with two different teams, joining Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and LeBron James.

And he may have just played his last game as a Raptor.

What will Leonard do in free agency this summer?

“There’s a sense of what normal people would do, and then there’s who the heck the knows with Kawhi?” NBA TV host Casey Stern joked on After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “Pascal Siakam told me after a game in this series that Kawhi tells jokes on the plane. I had to double down and ask him about that. Fred VanVleet told me after this game, ‘He’s not going to tell me the truth and ruin the mystique.’”

In other words, Leonard keeps to himself and doesn’t show his cards.

“He certainly is going to be a hero in Toronto forever,” Stern said. “This is not going to be a guy that is going to be booed if he spurns this team and goes anywhere because what he gave this country – forget about just this city – they’ll never forget. In normal circumstances, if you ask any athlete or any human being – getting a chance to be a hero in a country and helping that team win a championship, the East is still wide open, the West may be wide open with the injuries to the Warriors – they wouldn’t leave. But it’s Kawhi. I think he’s gone. I think it’s going to be what he always said.”

Some analysts will point to Paul George, who was considered a one-year rental in Oklahoma City but wound up staying with the Thunder.

“This is a different story,” Stern said. “Kawhi and his camp from day one have been vocal about wanting to go back to Los Angeles and go back close to home and be in California. I don’t know if that’s changed. Again, who the heck knows because it’s Kawhi. But I would say whatever anybody else would do, you probably go the other way with Kawhi Leonard. I would guess that he leaves.”

Click below to listen to Stern’s interview in its entirety.