Try to talk to a Toronto Raptors fan for five minutes without the following question being raised: “So… Kawhi… think he’ll stay?”
Not that you can blame them, of course. By donning the Raptors’ Red, Kawhi Leonard instantly makes this a team with Championship-level expectations, while the nature of his free-agent-to-be status puts even more pressure on making a Finals push this season. Leonard’s status this summer very much dictates the direction of the Raptors franchise — a fact that’s clearly not lost on his teammates.
“We need him to stay,” Ibaka told Mannix of Leonard. “He keeps everybody safe — no one is safe if he leaves.”
Los Angeles — either the Clippers or Lakers — has long been considered the most likely destination for the L.A.-born baller, should he decide to go on the market this summer.
The Raptors, of course, have a one-year head start in recruiting the two-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year, and Ibaka — who has become one of Leonard’s strongest bonds in the locker room, per Mannix — is making good use of the time.
“We need you to stay,” Ibaka told Kawhi, as described in the feature. “Stay, Kawhi. Stayyyyyy.”