As rumors swirl over Kawhi Leonard’s next destination, his current teammate Kyle Lowry broached an intriguing possibility during the Toronto Raptors championship parade on Monday. As the crowd surrounding the bus that Lowry and Leonard rode atop of began chanting “one more year!” at Leonard, Lowry upped the ante. With his arm slung around Leonard’s shoulder, Lowry raised all five fingers on his right hand and urged the crowd to change the “one” in their chant to “five.”
Lowry’s digits represent the five-year, $190 million max contract the Raptors can offer Leonard this summer, one year and $49 million more than any other team can present him in free agency. Despite leading the Raptors to their first NBA championship in franchise history, Leonard continues to be linked to other options, including the two teams in Los Angeles currently dueling for his services.
There’s been talk of Leonard signing a one-year deal with the Raptors, but what if he hedged his bets and signed with them for the long term? It’s not as crazy as it sounds.
First, let’s look at the players Leonard has around him, starting with his backcourt mate in Lowry. The two posted a net rating of +10.6 in the 780 minutes they shared the court together during the playoffs, anchoring the Raptors perimeter attack both offensively and defensively. Leonard and Pascal Siakam, the Raptors blossoming young star, had similar success together, posting a net rating of +8.4. And when all three shared the court in these playoffs, the Raptors operated like a finely tuned machine, posting a defensive rating of 102.7 for the playoffs against offensive juggernauts like the 76ers, Bucks and Warriors.
Siakam is just 25 years old and going into the final year of his rookie deal with Toronto. He’ll be a restricted free agent in the summer of 2020, and will almost certainly sign an extension with the Raps. T