Raptors Analyst: Three Factors Will Determine Kawhi's Future

Kawhi Leonard has been great for the Raptors, but will he remain in Toronto beyond this season?

Taz and the Moose
April 17, 2019 - 10:06 am
Kawhi Leonard Toronto Raptors Orlando Magic NBA Playoffs

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After dropping Game 1 of their opening-round playoff series, the Raptors needed a big game from Kawhi Leonard – and he gave them one. Leonard scored 37 points on 15-of-22 shooting to lead Toronto to a 111-82 win over Orlando on Tuesday.

If you’ve been following the Raptors this season, that performance shouldn’t come as a surprise. It was a must-win game for Toronto, and Leonard won it.

“He’s been great in the locker room,” Raptors TV analyst Leo Rautins said on Taz & The Moose. “He’s a different guy inside that locker room, and quite honestly, outside the locker room I don’t have any issues with Kawhi. A lot of people are saying, ‘He doesn’t say much.’ OK, you want to win? I don’t care. For all I care, he doesn’t have to do one interview all year as long as the Raptors win. I don’t care. 

“But at the same time, when he actually does talk, I really enjoy listening to him,” Rautins continued. “He’s going to answer your question, he’s going to think about it, he’ll be deliberate, he’ll be concise, and he’s very direct. There’s no B.S. He’s a very clear-cut guy, and I like that. And in the locker room, guys have had no issues. From literally everybody I’ve talked to, it’s all good.”

Leonard averaged 26.6 points and 7.3 rebounds this year, leading the Raptors (58-24) to the second-best record in the NBA. What are the odds that he remains in Toronto beyond this season?

“I think there’s three major factors that are going to play into all of this,” Rautins said. “No. 1, Toronto is a great city. If Paul George can stay in Oklahoma City, you got a shot at Toronto because this is a world-class city. Without a doubt, I think that’s a positive factor. No. 2 is what kind of success is the team going to have? If this team goes to the Eastern Finals, maybe the NBA Finals, that’s certainly going to be a plus. 

“And the third thing, and maybe this is the most important thing, the way the Raptors have treated Kawhi coming off a nine-game season where he took a lot of criticism – a lot of people mocked him, thought he was making up a lot of stuff or didn’t want to play. The Raptors treated his injury seriously . . . and (made) the first and foremost concern his health. I think that goes a long way.”

Click below to listen to Rautins’ interview in its entirety.