Earlier this month, Leonard decided to sign with the Los Angeles Clippers and join forces with former Oklahoma City Thunder star Paul George. In an interview with ESPN's Rachel Nichols, Leonard admitted that he was "very close" to signing with the Los Angeles Lakers or re-signing with the Raptors, but the George trade ultimately led him to choose the Clippers.
Kawhi on how close he was to choosing the Lakers or Raptors instead of the Clippers:— Rachel Nichols (@Rachel__Nichols) July 24, 2019
"I was very close. Real close. But when [the Clippers] presented the opportunity of playing with Paul, it was easy, it was a yes. I said let's get it going."
Leonard was one of the league's biggest question marks entering the 2018-19 season after being limited to just nine games the prior campaign due to a quadriceps injury. However, he quickly put all those concerns to bed during Toronto's championship run.
Leonard was named the NBA Finals MVP after he put together averages of 28.5 points, 9.8 rebounds and 4.2 assists while knocking down 34.9 percent of his shots from 3-point range. The star forward scored 22 points in Toronto's series-clinching Game 6 win over the Golden State Warriors and carried the team throughout the postseason.
Toronto took a huge gamble trading for Leonard last summer when they parted with DeMar DeRozan in the deal to acquire the All-Star forward. Obviously it paid off for the team, as Leonard delivered the franchise's first NBA title and clearly entertained the idea of remaining north of the border.
Leonard now joins forces with George in what could be one of the league's most dangerous star combinations. The Clippers and Lakers could be going head-to-head for Western Conference supremacy next season with the Warriors losing Kevin Durant in free agency and Klay Thompson to a torn ACL.