With a sure to be exciting off season for the NBA, many big name free agents are going to be available. Kawhi Leonard is one of the biggest names this summer. Reports last year said Kawhi wanted to play in Los Angeles, other reports said he might sit out this entire season just to not play with the Raptors. Now here we are in May, and Kawhi and the Raptors are still playing, they are now tied in the eastern conference finals with the Bucks at 2-2. So how does Kawhi decide where he plays next year, if they win this series and then lose to Golden State does he run it back next year and try again? Or does he give up on Toronto and go play elsewhere? Kawhi is the one superstar in the league who keeps everything hidden from the media. In today’s NBA most superstars are loud and often take to social media when they aren’t playing. Kawhi doesn’t do any of that, he seems like a quiet guy to begin with, but starting his career under Greg Popovich and Tim Duncan just added to that.
Obviously, Raptors fans want Kawhi to stay. They traded away Demar Derozan, a fan favorite up north, for Kawhi. Trading away your franchise player for a possible one year rental is a risky move. Kawhi will be approached by any team with the cap space to sign him. Most notably, the Lakers, Clippers, Raptors, and the Knicks. The two LA teams and the Knicks have something the Raptors don’t, and that is the big market atmosphere. It never made sense to me that Kawhi would want to play for a big market, media frenzy team. If that is what he wants, the Raptors have to wow him in other ways. That is where the fans come in. “Ka’whine and Dine” is the plan for Kawhi to stay. Restaurants throughout Toronto have put stickers on their windows and doors offering Kawhi Leonard free food for life if he resigns with the Raptors. That seems like a sure fire way to keep your superstar happy, as long as he likes the food in Toronto. Adam Robles, Raptors Republic marketing and social media head has created the slogan, “Let’s wine’m, dine’m, and let’s re-sign’m.”
We still have to see how this season finishes out for Leonard and the Raptors. But Toronto fans have made it clear he is welcomed back with open arms. They just have to hope he likes the food in Toronto.