Kawhi Leonard plans to decline a $21.3 million player option for the 2019-20 season, paving his way to free agency and possibly out of Toronto.
The Raptors are preparing for Leonard to entertain all offers on the open market just one year after a trade brought him to Toronto.
The deal paid off: The Raptors are celebrating their first NBA title following a Game 6 victory in the NBA Finals that ended the reign of the Golden State Warriors on Thursday.
Now a two-time finals MVP, Leonard could choose to return to his home state of California, with the Los Angeles Lakers and Clippers thought to be set to pursue him. He said Thursday the next few days will be focused on what the team just accomplished, and the achievement of goals he set when the San Antonio Spurs obliged his trade request last summer.
—The Golden State Warriors plan to offer five-year max contracts to Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson, despite significant injuries to both players, according to a report.
ESPN’s Brian Windhorst said Friday on the network’s “First Take” that Durant’s torn right Achilles tendon and Thompson’s torn left ACL will not discourage the Warriors. Both players sustained the injuries in the NBA Finals.
Thompson will be an unrestricted free agent on June 30. Durant can decline his $31.5 million player option and also become a free agent.
—Philadelphia 76ers forward Jimmy Butler intends to test free agency by opting out of a $19.8 million player option, according to a report from Yahoo Sports, citing NBA sources.
The Sixers were prepared for Butler’s decision and “remain adamant” about keeping the 29-year-old with the team, according to Yahoo’s Chris Haynes.
Philadelphia acquired Butler in a trade with the Minnesota Timberwolves early last season. The eight-year pro went on to average 18.2 points, 5.3 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 1.8 steals in 55 games with the Sixers.
—Toronto Raptors team president Masai Ujiri is being investigated amid allegations he pushed a sheriff’s deputy and hit him in the face following the Raptors’ championship-clinching Game 6 of the NBA Finals in Oakland, Calif., Thursday night.
Sheriff’s officials said Ujiri was barred from going on the court at Oracle Arena because he didn’t have proper credentials.
“Mr. Ujiri was unknown to the deputy at that time. (The deputy) asked him for a credential,” said Sgt. Ray Kelly, a spokesman for the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office, told ESPN. “He shoved the deputy out of the way and walked toward the court. The deputy pushed back. The president came forward more with a more significant push and ended up striking the deputy in the face.”
—While the Toronto Raptors were flying back to Ontario with their first NBA title, the Milwaukee Bucks were installed as the betting favorite to claim the O’Brien Trophy next year.
The Bucks (+480) are tops on the 2020 title futures list released by FanDuel, ahead of the Golden State Warriors (+600) and Raptors (+600).
Not all sportsbooks are banking on the Bucks. The Lakers are the favorites (+400), ahead of the Bucks (+500), Clippers (+700) and 76ers (+800), at pointsbet.com.
—Field Level Media