Raptors hire former Spurs staffer, childhood friend of Kawhi for coaching staff

Kawhi Leonard

Kawhi Leonard

Kawhi Leonard may not be as opposed to playing for the Toronto Raptors as initially believed, but his desires for when he becomes a free agent next summer have apparently not changed.

This week, Ujiri appointed Leonard's childhood friend, Jeremy Castleberry, to join the Raptors' coaching staff in a move many have interpreted as the first step in attempting to convince Leonard to remain in Toronto long-term. Leonard and Castleberry attended Martin Luther King High School in Riverdale, California, and San Diego State for two seasons. San Antonio reportedly fielded some trade offers from other teams, but ultimately pulled off an exchange of players with the Raptors, who gave up DeMar DeRozan, Jakob Poeltl, and a protected future draft pick for Leonard and Danny Green.

However, according to a new report from ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, the appointment is yet to make a significant difference to Leonard's desire to test free agency.

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The 27-year-old is scheduled to hit unrestricted free agency next summer and ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reports his preference is now to sign in Los Angeles with either the Lakers or the Clippers.

The biggest deal Toronto would be able to offer the former two-time Kia Defensive Player of the Year and Finals MVP victor in 2019 is a five-year, $190 million contract. If Leonard leaves the Raptors, he could sign a four-year, $141 million deal with a team with the available salary-cap space.

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