Sources: Kawhi Leonard to decline option and will become a free agent; Raptors the favorites to land him
Toronto Raptors star Kawhi Leonard will decline his 2019-20 player option worth $21.3 million to become an unrestricted free agent, league sources told Yahoo Sports.
The 6-foot-7 All-Star will be one of the marquee free agents on the open market.
The Raptors are the only team that can offer Leonard a max contract for five years and $190 million.
Leonard, 27, is believed to be seriously considering re-signing with the Raptors, sources said.
But there are a handful of teams who could secure a meeting with the 2019 NBA Finals MVP, sources said.
The appeal of returning home to Southern California is enticing to the two-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year, but with the trust the Raptors built while Leonard led the franchise to its first NBA title by upsetting the Golden State Warriors, rival executives view his current team as the favorite to land him when the free-agent negotiating period begins June 30, sources said.
Leonard had career highs in points (26.6) and rebounds (7.3) in his lone season with the Raptors.
Leonard was drafted in 2011 and was the 2014 NBA Finals MVP with the San Antonio Spurs. After a tumultuous season with the Spurs, he was traded to Toronto last summer along with Danny Green for DeMar DeRozan, Jakob Poeltl and a first-round draft pick.
In eight seasons, the three-time All-Star has averaged 17.7 points, 6.3 rebounds and 1.8 steals.
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