According to multiple reports, Kawhi Leonard does not want to play in Toronto.
The Toronto Raptors appear to be the winners of Wednesday's trade with the Spurs involving Kawhi Leonard and DeMar DeRozan, but according to multiple reports, Leonard has no enthusiasm to play in Toronto.
Chris Haynes of ESPN.com first reported Leonard "has no desire to play" with the Raptors, and Sean Deveney of Sporting News later reported something similar. Deveney also reports there have been hints that Leonard is willing to sit out the entire season "if necessary."
From Sporting News:
And, league sources told Sporting News, Leonard has no interest in playing for the Raptors. There have been indications that he would sit out the entire season if necessary, and though that step would be drastic and unprecedented in today’s game, Toronto has forced the situation into uncharted territory by acquiring a player who has made it clear he does not want to be there.
Leonard only played in nine games last season due to a quad injury he was dealing with, however he was medically cleared to return in February, and instead sought a second opinion on the injury in New York.
If Leonard were to sit out the season, the collective bargaining agreement is structured in a way that the Raptors would still hold the rights to his contract and could either keep him or waive, and Leonard could be subjected to fines.
According to Article XI, Section 3 of the CBA, any player in the last year of a contract who withholds services for more than 30 days after the start of the season will not become a free agent and can only sign with a new team if the team they last played for agrees, because it is deemed that their contract will not be considered completed. According to Article XI, Section 1, a player who skips games will have his base salary reduced by 1/145th for each of the first 20 games he misses and then by 1/110th for each game after that. Section 2 says a player will be fined $2,500 for the first practice he misses, $5,000 for the second, $7,500 for the third and for any practice he misses after that, or if it's determined he intentionally skipped the practices in the first place, he will be subjected to "discipline as is reasonable under the circumstances."
If Leonard decided to retire to avoid the fines, the NBA constitution and bylaws say he would have to wait one year after Toronto put him on the voluntary retired list before he could return to the NBA, unless the Board of Governors voted unanimously to allow him to come back, according to The Washington Post. Upon returning to the league, the team he was last with gets first dibs to his services, and if they decide to let him leave, he goes through the waiver process.
Despite coming off a franchise-record 59-win season, the Raptors are in a peculiar place now that they have fired Coach of the Year Dwane Casey and traded away a four-time All-Star who spent the first nine years of his career in Toronto.
Leonard, a two-time Defensive Player of the Year, has only played in more than 70 games twice in his seven-year career. DeRozan on the other hand has played in at least 74 games every season besides the 66-game lockout-shortened season of 2011-12 (DeRozan played in 63 games) and 2014-15 (DeRozan played 60 games).