Kawhi Leonard

Kawhi Leonard is leaving few clues about his upcoming free agency


His adolescence matched the heyday of Kobe Bryant's tenure with the franchise, and his family -- like so many others in Riverside and other parts of the Inland Empire where he grew up -- was full of devoted followers of the purple and gold.


But it also was a small window into the mindset Leonard has employed as he has lifted himself from being a high school star plying his trade 60 miles east of Los Angeles into the sport's best two-way wing player.


A survey of several league executives this weekend had the Lakers trailing, even among Staples Center tenants, in the competition to get Leonard, with the LA Clippers universally being placed ahead of them.


The Raptors have a roster teeming with long, bouncy athletes, a cohesive unit that goes two deep at every position with long-limbed players who allow first-year coach Nick Nurse to mix-and-match as he sees fit.


And with the ability to offer him unfettered access to one of the big cities in North America from a marketing standpoint -- not to mention an entire country -- Toronto hopes to convince Leonard there's plenty to be gained financially from sticking around.


Regardless of how things play out this season, though -- no matter how well the Raptors do, or how much Leonard assimilates into Toronto's vibrant cultural scene -- it's worth remembering that this is a man who grew up in the heart of Lakers territory rooting against his hometown team and his family, and for Allen Iverson.






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