Kawhi Leonard sets Toronto abuzz with reported airport arrival
Kawhi Leonard has taken his time in meeting with teams during free agency. The top superstar of this summer’s class set Toronto abuzz Wednesday when he was sighted at the airport.
Video captured what appears to be Leonard and several others arriving on a private plane owned by the Toronto Raptors’ ownership group at Pearson International Airport. Soon a pair of large SUVs left the airport and drove toward downtown underneath at least one helicopter providing video of the trip.
Raptors President Masai Ujiri was spotted in a downtown hotel earlier Wednesday, leading basketball fans and media members to congregate outside the building. It’s assumed Ujiri and other Raptors representatives will make their final pitch at the hotel for the reigning NBA Finals MVP to re-sign with the club and defend their championship.
If Leonard returns to Toronto, it’s likely free-agent guard Danny Green, who has previously won titles with Leonard in San Antonio (2014) and Toronto, would also return to the Raptors. Toronto would then have their five starters and top reserves in place from last season.
Since the free-agency period opened on Saturday, Leonard had been rumored to have taken meetings with Clippers and Lakers officials.
Magic Johnson said on Monday that he had a private conversation with the two-time NBA champion about a variety of topics, including if the Lakers had tried to acquire Leonard before this past season.
Leonard reportedly told the Raptors they would get the final meeting before he makes his decision on what team to join for next season. As methodical and secretive as the process has been, expect Leonard to take his time in announcing his decision (or someone leaking the news).
Kawhi Leonard rose to stardom at Martin Luther King High in Riverside.(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)
Riverside King’s Kawhi Leonard is fouled by Taft’s Bryce Smith a Southern California Regional semifinal playoff game on March 6, 2008.(Richard Hartog / Los Angeles Times)
SanDiego State forward Kawhi Leonard reacts after he was mistakenly called for a foul during a game against UNLV Rebels on Feb. 12, 2011 in Las Vegas,.(Ethan Miller / Getty Images)
Kawhi Leonard of San Diego State Aztecs takes off on a fast berak during a game against Temple during an NCAA tournament game on March 19, 2011, in Tucson.(Harry How / Getty Images)
San Diego State’s Kawhi Leonard grabs a rebound from UConn’s Roscoe Smith during an NCAA tournament Sweet 16 game at Honda Center on March 24, 2011.(Chuck Liddy / TNS)
San Diego State forward Kawhi Leonard tries to keep possession of hte ball against UConn defenders during an NCAA West Regional semifinal at Honda Center.on March 24, 2011.(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Kawhi Leonard poses with NBA Commissioner David Stern at the 2011 NBA draft in Newark, N.J. Leonard was drafted 15th by the Indiana Pacers and was then traded to San Antonio.(Associated Press)
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich talks to Kawhi Leonard during a game in 2017.(Brandon Dill / Associated Press)
Kawhi Leonard receives his second trophy as the NBA’s defensive player of the year in 2017.(Associated Press)
Cavaliers forward LeBron James tries to drive past Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard during a game on Jan. 21, 2017.(Tony Dejak / Associated Press)
Clippers point guard Chris Paul calls for a timeout as Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard tries to steal the ball from af allen Blake Griffin.(Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times)
Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard only played nine games during the 2017-18 season.(Eric Gay / Associated Press)
Kawhi Leonard takes a phone call during one of his first practices with the Raptors on Sept. 26, 2018, in Burnaby, Canada.(Jonathan Hayward / Canadian Press)
Raptors forward Kawhi Leonard drives against Warriors forward Andre Iguodala during Game 5 of the NBA Finals on June 10, 2019.(Frank Gunn / Canadian Press)
Raptors forward Kawhi Leonard is fouled by Warriors guard Klay Thompson during Game 4 of the NBA Finals on June 7, 2019, in Oakland.(Frank Gunn / Canadian Press)
Kawhi Leonard celebrates after the Raptors won the NBA title with a victory over Golden State in Game 6 of the NBA Finals on June 13, 2019, in Oakland.(Ezra Shaw / Getty Images)
Raptors forward Kawhi Leonard holds the NBA Finals MVP trophy as he poses with his uncle Dennis Robertson and his mother Kim Robertson.(Frank Gunn / Associated Press)
Raptors forward Kawhi Leonard takes a selfie while holding his Finals MVP trophy during the team’s victory parade on June 17, 2019.(Frank Gunn / Canadian Press)
Players can’t sign contracts until 3 p.m. PDT Saturday, when the NBA’s business moratorium is lifted. Until then agreements can be reached. All the other top free agents — Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Klay Thompson and Kemba Walker among them — have committed to teams.
In other NBA news:
— The Detroit Pistons and Markieff Morris have agreed on a two-year contract. Morris has averaged 11.6 points and 5.5 rebounds during his eight-year career. The 6-foot-10 forward played a career-low 58 games last season, limited by a neck injury, for Washington and Oklahoma City. Morris averaged a career-high 15.3 points with the Phoenix Suns during the 2014-15 season and has scored at least 11.5 points per game in five seasons. He is the twin brother of free agent Marcus Morris, who previously played for the Pistons.
— The Indiana Pacers and guard T.J. McConnell agreed to a two-year, $7-million deal, his agent confirmed Wednesday. He has career averages of 6.4 points and 4.7 assists per game.
— The Atlanta Hawks have acquired veteran forward Chandler Parsons in a trade that sent Miles Plumlee and Solomon Hill to Memphis. The trade comes only two weeks after the Hawks acquired Hill from New Orleans in a draft-day trade.
— The Dallas Mavericks and Boban Marjanovic have agreed on a contract that will likely make him their backup center. The addition of Marjanovic gives the Mavericks two 7-foot-3 European players. The Serbian joins Kristaps Porzingis, the Latvian forward who has agreed to a $158-million, five-year max contract. Dallas will be the fifth team in five seasons for Marjanovic. The 30-year-old went to the second round of the Eastern Conference playoffs with Philadelphia last season. He has career averages of 6.2 points and 3.9 rebounds.
— The Chicago Bulls said center Wendell Carter Jr. will have surgery next week to repair an abdominal muscle injury. The procedure is scheduled for Tuesday in Philadelphia. The Bulls expect him to be ready for training camp. The 6-foot-10 Carter showed promise last season after being drafted with the No. 7 overall pick, averaging 10.3 points and 7 rebounds in 44 games before a season-ending left thumb injury.
— The Portland Trail Blazers announced the signings of forwards Mario Hezonja and Anthony Tolliver. Hezonja, the No. 5 pick in the 2015 draft by Orlando, played three seasons with the Magic before spending last season with the New York Knicks. He averaged 8.8 points in 58 games. Tolliver spent last season with Minnesota. The 11-year veteran has also played with eight other teams, averaging 6.4 points. The team does not have to wait until Saturday to sign players to minimum contracts.
Wire and internet reports contributed to this story.
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