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The city of Toronto is trying to give Kawhi Leonard free food and a penthouse to stay

The Raptors are having the best season they’ve ever had in the franchise’s 25-year history. It’s safe to say it’s all thanks to their all-NBA forward, Kawhi Leonard.

That includes Vince Carter’s Raptors, Tracey McGrady’s Raptors, and Chris Bosh’s Raptors, who are all headed to the Hall of Fame.

As of today, they’re tied 2-2 in the Eastern Conference Finals with the Milwaukee Bucks with game five tonight, meaning they’re a legit two games of away of reaching the NBA Finals.

If there is anyone fully aware of this it’s the city of Toronto, that, with each day, throws themselves at Kawhi. The effort is put forth in hopes that the perennial all-star won’t resign after becoming a free agent this summer on July 1.

Yesterday, it was reported that Toronto restaurants offered Kawhi Leonard free food for life if he stays with Raptors. The new tactic called “Ka’Wine and Dine,” in which they offer free food to Leonard for life if he re-signs with the Raptors.

In theory, the sticker indicates that it’s an establishment that will always welcome Leonard and cover his tab.

Now, a representative for the brokerage confirmed to Narcity that Simon Mass, CEO of The Condo Store Realty Inc. is prepared to gift Leonard a multi-million-dollar penthouse in downtown Toronto if the player agrees to re-sign with the Raptors.

According to the report, Leonard will get to choose between several lavish penthouse condos at the Four Seasons, St. Regis, or Carlton Residences in Toronto.

Here’s a look of them below:

“We want to do what we can to ensure that our MVP stays in Toronto where he is loved and respected for being the ‘best of the best’ for the basketball-loving public of Toronto and Canada,” Mass said to Narcity.

“We are throwing everything we have at The Condo Store to show Kawhi how much we appreciate his efforts to date and his future commitment to Canada’s only NBA franchise,” he continued.

While it is true that the Cali native purchased a home in Toronto this year, he also has a sweet $13.3 million pad out back home, where he could reportedly sign.

Toronto has obviously seen all they need to, having rolled out all the red carpet. They can only hope that the star who doesn’t like to shine is somehow impressed. Based on how he’s conducted himself in his career thus far, I’m sure no one has a read or is close to telling.

Game five of the Eastern Conference Finals is tonight in Milwaukee and airs on TNT.

Does the Kawhi trade vault the Raptors to the top of the East?

For almost two decades, the San Antonio Spurs have been the model organization in the NBA. They’ve built a sustainable culture with the best coach in the league, Gregg Popovich, who has the ability to coax premier players to buy into his system.

David Robinson, Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker trusted the tenets of the “Spurs Way”: selflessness, sacrifice, stability. Then they plugged in Kawhi Leonard, possibly the best perimeter player Gregg Popovich has ever coached. He looked like the second-coming of Tim Duncan, a robotic player with bionic arms who was molded into a terrorizing two-way force.

But, it’s 2018 and players don’t stay with one team for their entire career anymore. Leonard, a top three player in the league when healthy, turned down a sneaker deal that Jordan offered him last summer which some in his camp felt was insulting.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and others reported that Leonard believed the San Antonio market, one of the smallest in the league, would hinder him from attracting bigger dollars off the court.

This could be true but his representatives, a weird uncle and an agent who primarily works in the NFL, also have to consider that Leonard hasn’t developed a personality or connected with fans on social media, which also hurts his marketability.

Leonard is the first player to test Popovich’s model. Though Duncan almost bolted for Orlando in the summer of 2000, the Spurs had never faced a crisis quite like this. Over the last 9 months, the league became transfixed on how they would handle it.

Would they be able to repair the relationship or would they end up trading Leonard for 25 cents on the dollar? They tried for months to get him to sign a 5 year, $219 million deal, but it quickly became clear that wouldn’t happen.

In recent weeks, the Spurs started to actively shop Leonard. Though many believed he would end up in Philadelphia, Boston or Los Angeles, Toronto was able to swoop in today and land “The Claw.”

First thoughts: the Raptors fleeced the Spurs who received DeMar DeRozan, Jakob Poeltl, and a heavily protected “fake” first round pick (it will likely become two second round picks). That’s really the best they could get for Kawhi?

Granted, he only has one year left on his deal and this deal carries some risk but maybe Toronto can sell him on their culture if they make a deep playoff run. Though no one thought they could, the Thunder were able to do just that with Paul George. Additionally, the Raptors proved they couldn’t get over the hump with DeRozan and needed to make a change to improve their chances at a title.

Let’s look at the Raptors team in 2018-2019. We can expect that they will eliminate those deep, inefficient two-point shots that DeRozan lived on and replace them with Leonard’ss efficient offensive repertoire of three’s and points in the paint.

San Antonio Spurs Basketball GIF by NBA - Find & Share on GIPHY

Additionally, a lineup with Kyle Lowry, Danny Green, Leonard, OG Anunoby and Serge Ibaka should be one of the league’s best defenses. The versatility, length, and intensity they can employ on that end will strike fear in every Eastern Conference team.

Don’t be surprised if the Raptors are in the Finals next year and push the Warriors in a long series. At the very least, the Raptors were able to move DeRozan’s albatross of a contract and take a flier on one of the league’s best players. For them, this deal is a home run.

For the Spurs, I’m not really sure how this deal makes much sense. They have to take on DeRozan’s enormous contract, three years and more than $90 million, without getting one of the Toronto’s top young players like Anunoby or Delon Wright. But, the Spurs organization has built a good deal of trust with their fans. While the rest of the NBA is zigging, the Spurs are zagging.

They shoot a high percentage on three-point shots but don’t take that many of them. A large proportion of their shots still come from the mid-range and guess where DeRozan thrives? Pairing him with LaMarcus Aldridge will give them two players whose shot chart would have looked great in 1997- too bad it’s 2018.

The Spurs won 47 games last year with Kawhi only playing 9 games so adding a healthy DeRozan might give them a chance to win 50 or more. But, does anyone think they can actually contend for a championship?

There’s an old saying in the NBA: the team that receives the best player in a trade is the winner. That saying holds true here; Toronto has just been vaulted to Eastern Conference favorites and now they finally have a real chance to bring a title back to the 6.


SMFH: Everything about Kawhi Leonard’s injury sucks so much

Kawhi Leonard is one of the NBA’s best players. Kawhi was a leading favorite to win MVP in the preseason but to this point of the season he’s only played 9 games.

Now, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski is reporting that although the San Antonio Spurs have cleared Kawhi to play, he’s choosing to stay off the court.

Kawhi is battling a quadricep tendon injury that has kept him sidelined for most of the season. The injury is such that Spurs coach Gregg Popovich claimed he had “never” seen an injury like it before. That doesn’t sound good.

Back in January, Wojnarowski first reported on the fraying relationship between Kawhi Leonard and the Spurs over the handling of the injury:

“Under president and coach Gregg Popovich and general manager RC Buford, the Spurs have a two-decades-long history of strong relationships with star players, but multiple sources describe Leonard and his camp as ‘distant’ and ‘disconnected’ from the organization.”

Kawhi is signed through the 2020 season after penning a 5-year $95 million contract in 2015, but the forward has an opt-out clause to become a free agent in the summer of 2019. It benefits all parties to figure out a solution as soon as possible.

The Spurs are the golden standard for how to run a sports organization, you’d think they’d find a way to make Kawhi happy again.

But a month after that report, it appears that things have only gotten worse, and weirder, between the Spurs and Leonard. According to Woj, the Spurs have cleared Leonard to play, but the All-Star forward is choosing not to take the court.

“Leonard has been medically cleared to return from the right quad tendinopathy injury, but since shutting down a nine-game return to the San Antonio Spurs that ended Jan. 13, he has elected against returning to the active roster, sources said. If Leonard returns, it will be because he has decided he can manage the discomfort of the injury, according to the sources.”

Leonard is clearly dealing with a tough injury and his frustration is such that he no longer really trusts the Spurs, or his body, right now. Woj wrote about the growing discord between player and team and how with Leonard’s possible free agency in 2019, there’s a “palpable stress” around the Spurs organization:

“The injury, rehabilitation and timetable for a return has complicated the Spurs’ and Leonard’s relationship, causing tension and fraying the fabric of what was once a strong partnership, league sources told ESPN. The uncertainty surrounding this season — and Leonard’s future, which could include free agency in the summer of 2019 — has inspired a palpable stress around the organization, league sources said.”

Yesterday, Gregg Popovich told reporters that it seems unlikely that Kawhi will return at all this season,

“We only have X number of games left in the season, and he’s still not ready to go. If by some chance he is, it’s gonna be pretty late into the season, and it’s going to be a pretty tough decision — how late to bring somebody back. So that’s why I’m just trying to be honest and logical. I’ll be surprised if he gets back this year.”

Some were hesitant to take Popovich at his word here. He’s notoriously cagey and tongue-in-cheek with the media and maybe this was just another Pop misdirection.

That doesn’t seem likely in this case, but it’s possible that Pop is just trying to catch other teams off guard when they bring back a 100% Kawhi Leonard back for the playoffs.

Honestly, I really hope that is the case. Kawhi Leonard is one of the most enjoyable and exciting players in the NBA when he’s on. Not only is he arguably the best defensive player in the entire league, he’s refined his game to become a dangerous and efficient scorer, putting up 25/6/2 last season.

The NBA is a lot more fun with Kawhi Leonard involved. With him, the Spurs could mount a serious challenge to the Warriors and the Rockets in the West. And while it’s quite literally insane that the Spurs sit 3rd in the West despite not having a healthy Kawhi all season, they have no chance without him.

The current situation is kind of unbelievable. How the Spurs let it get to his point is hard to understand. Hopefully Kawhi can regain his health and confidence and get back on the floor soon.

This season of NBA injuries has been so trash, I just miss Kawhi.