The whole city of Toronto hoped that NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard would re-sign with the Raptors, but despite the team's best efforts, he ultimately signed with the Los Angeles Clippers. Negotiations with numerous teams, including the Raptors, reportedly fell through, and Josh Lewenberg of TSN has now indicated why that may have happened.
According to Lewenberg, Leonard's camp asked for "unreasonable" requests during the negotiation process, that the Raptors simply weren't prepared to meet. The unusual requests reportedly made the Raptors skeptical about Leonard's desire to stay with the team.
When Raptors team president Masai Ujiri was recently asked whether Leonard and his camp were upfront with their intentions, he responded, "I think he was." Ujiri paused, and added, "Kawhi Was."
Ujiri's words suggest that it was Kawhi's uncle, Dennis Robertson, who ultimately paved the way for Leonard's Toronto exit. "I know what we’re dealing with here and I appreciate what the process was," Ujiri explained. "I know free agency, I know how it works. It’s not my first rodeo. You know things are going to go up and down. This was a different kind of free agency. It was high stakes and we understood that." Robertson, as Lewenberg noted, has a reputation for "being hard to deal with."
Without Leonard's services, the Raptors are considered longshots to repeat. The Clippers meanwhile, are the odds-on favorite to win the championship next season.