Clippers Turmoil Could Create Opening for Raptors

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When Kawhi Leonard left Toronto in free agency last offseason he reportedly thought the Raptors couldn’t repeat as NBA champions, according to TSN’s Josh Lewenberg. So Leonard took his talents to Los Angeles, returning to his home state and pairing up with Paul George to create — at least on paper — a superteam.

It didn’t work, at least not in Year 1.

The Clippers disappointed in the playoffs, squandering a 3-1 series lead to the Denver Nuggets before returning home after Game 7 of the Western Conference semifinals.

Now, the Clippers appear to have some problems internally, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania.

“In the postgame locker room Tuesday night, [Paul] George was preaching to teammates to remain committed, for all the players to return to the team this offseason and stay ready to make another run. It was met by some eye rolls and bewilderment, sources said, because George did not back up his words with action in the series and the team has multiple free agents with decisions to make,” Charania wrote.

Both George and Leonard are under contract for next season with player opt-outs for 2021. It’s unlikely the Clippers would look to move either of them, but bringing the rest of the team back might not be that easy.

The Clippers’ 26-year-old forward Montrezl Harrell is heading into unrestricted free agency this fall, coming off a career year in which he averaged 18.6 points with 7.1 rebounds per game.

Harrell made some news over the weekend when he reportedly followed the Raptors on Instagram leading to speculation that he might be interested in moving to Toronto.

It’s unlikely the Raptors would have the cap space to actually get a deal done with Harrell while maintaining enough money to retain Fred VanVleet and go after Giannis Antetokounmpo in 2021, but considering Toronto’s centres Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka are both free agents, it makes sense for the Raptors to kick the tires on free agent centres around the league.