TORONTO — It was a heck of a season, but it appears that’s all the Toronto Raptors are going to get from Kawhi Leonard.
Less than a month after leading the Raptors to their first NBA title, the superstar free agent is leaving Toronto for the Los Angeles Clippers.
A person familiar with the negotiations says the Clippers will be landing Leonard as a free agent after they acquire Paul George from the Oklahoma City Thunder in a massive trade for players and draft picks.
George will be traded for at least four first-round picks, according to the person who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity early Saturday because none of the moves have been finalized. And Leonard made his decision to sign with the Clippers after the team swung the deal to land George, the person said.
ESPN, which first reported the trade, also said the Thunder were getting Hamilton native Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Danilo Gallinari from the Clippers.
Leonard going to the Clippers means that for the first time, a reigning NBA Finals MVP will be changing teams before the next season. Leonard was also pursued by the Los Angeles Lakers and, of course, the Raptors.
He reportedly agreed to a four-year, US$142 million max contract, which he can sign as early as noon ET on Saturday.
Leonard was arguably the most coveted prize in this year’s free agency, and met with several teams including the Raptors, Lakers and Clippers in his hometown of Los Angeles.
The Lakers didn’t wait long before starting to move on from their quest for Leonard. Danny Green announced that he is signing a two-year, US$30 million deal with the Lakers, meaning he, too, is leaving Toronto.
“It’s been unfortunate how things turned out for everybody, and the city of Toronto and Canada that we couldn’t run it back. Kawhi has made his decision. Seems like the announcement is out,” Green said in a video he posted to his social media accounts. “It’s time for me to make my announcement … I will be teaming up with new teammates in LA, the Los Angeles Lakers.
“Had a fun time in the city of Toronto … always have a great place in my heart, will never forget the historical run that we had,” said Green.
The news ends months of speculation and angst for Raptors fans, that has only heated up as the days wore on after free agency opened last Sunday.
The top 10 Twitter trends in Toronto were about the move on Saturday morning as Raptors fans woke up to the news. The hashtags #ThankYouKawhi and #ThankYouDanny were both trending. Toronto Mayor John Tory tweeted: “Our #KawhiWatch has ended. #ThankYouKawhi for the NBA championship that you helped to bring to Toronto with your @Raptors teammates. #ThanksKawhi #WeTheNorth.”
Leonard’s sister, Miesha Slayton, posted several images on Instagram showing her brother in a Clippers jersey.
His tenure in Toronto ended with a wild few days of free agency that included tracking trips to California by the plane owned by Raptors parent company Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment Ltd., and Toronto news station CP24 following a black van by helicopter that may or may not have had Leonard in it.
Billboards encouraging Leonard to stay emerged in Toronto, with signs also popping up in Los Angeles calling on the star forward to return home.
Leonard’s departure was considered by many to be a foregone conclusion a year ago when Raptors president Masai Ujiri acquired him from the San Antonio Spurs in an off-season blockbuster that sent beloved franchise icon DeMar DeRozan to Texas.
Leonard had a year left on his contract plus a player option — which he was certainly going to decline — when he moved to Toronto, and many believed he’d put in a season in Canada before bolting for Los Angeles.
The Raptors certainly made Leonard’s decision a tough one. After Leonard missed all but nine games the previous season in San Antonio with a serious quadriceps injury, he said health was his biggest concern heading into this campaign.
Toronto responded by treating the superstar, who turned 28 on Saturday, with kid gloves. They made “load management” part of the NBA lexicon, holding him out of back-to-back games for health maintenance.
It all paid off in the playoffs, as Leonard had one of the best performances in NBA post-season history in leading the Raptors to their first Larry O’Brien Trophy. He was excellent on both sides of the ball as they dispatched Orlando, Philadelphia, Milwaukee and finally the two-time defending champion Golden State Warriors. He was rewarded with his second career Finals MVP award.
There were iconic moments along the way, including Leonard’s series-winning final shot in Game 7 against the 76ers that bounced on the rim four times before falling, sending the Scotiabank Arena crowd into a frenzy.
Leonard’s status as a sports icon in Toronto and across Canada perhaps closed the gap between the Raptors and other suitors. But ultimately, the lure of home proved too much and what Toronto had to offer wasn’t enough.
Leonard averaged 26.6 points on 49.6 per cent shooting, 7.3 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.8 steals over 60 regular-season games with the Raptors in 2018-19. He took his game to an elite level in the playoffs, averaging 30.5 points, 9.1 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 1.7 steals over 24 games.
His departure is a massive blow to Toronto’s chances of back-to-back titles, and obviously puts a damper on the Lakers’
—With files from The Associated Press
Lori Ewing , The Canadian Press
PARKER THOMPSON BREAKS NEW GROUND WITH INCREDIBLE TWO SERIES WEEKEND AT TORONTO INDY
From Parker Thompson Racing
Parker Thompson may be the busiest road racing driver on the continent. Since March, the young Alberta native has raced 27 times in four different series. Challenging for championship titles in both open-wheel race cars and sports cars, Thompson has shown incredible skill and versatility. That was most evident this weekend when Thompson raced in both the Indy Pro 2000 by Cooper Tires series, and the IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge Canada series as part of the Honda Indy Toronto event. With four alternating races, Thompson demonstrated an adaptability seldom seen in motorsports. In an incredible performance, he earned three podium finishes and the Yokohama Tires Hard Charger award. The result puts an exclamation mark on his accomplishments so far this year, and further reinforces his status as one of the continents top young drivers.
With a busy ten session schedule over the three day weekend, Thompson could often be seen hurrying between the Porsche GT3 and Indy Pro 2000 paddocks located at opposite ends of the event site in downtown Toronto. Competing in two series during the same event presented a variety of challenges not typical of most race weekends.
“There is a lot of work and preparation that goes into every single session we do on the race track. Balancing two different series this weekend would never have been possible without incredible support from my teams, Abel Motorsports [Indy Pro 2000] and Sports Car Boutique [IMSA GT3 Canada]. Getting the maximum out of two very different cars was a tremendous challenge. The Porsche GT3 Cup Car, and the Tatuus PM-18 Indy Pro 2000 car are not only very different in size and handling characteristics, but they also require a very different strategy and approach during race action. Going back and forth between vehicles, and jumping straight into race pace really tested my concentration and ability to remember key markers and set-up notes for this very unforgiving Streets of Toronto track. This was probably my most stressful weekend of racing ever, but I’m overjoyed by our results! In these two highly competitive series, I always feel blessed to stand on the podium. Doing that three out of four times this weekend feels like a huge achievement.” – Parker Thompson
The first of three podiums came with Abel Motorsports in Indy Pro 2000, where Thompson began his first race of the weekend from seventh position in the thirteen car line up. Navigating traffic and multiple yellow flag incidents on the challenging street course, Thompson maneuvered the #8 Abel Motorsports car to a 3rd place finish.
Race 2 in Indy Pro 2000 featured a relentless duel between Thompson and championship leader Rasmus Lindh. Starting in P3 and P2 respectively, the two drivers exchanged places multiple times early in the race. Thompson would make a final pass in turn 3 of the Toronto street course, and hold off Lindh for the remainder of the race to earn a second place finish.
In GT3 Cup Challenge Canada, Thompson began Race 1 from 7th position after a heavy rain prior to race start created conditions that challenged a variety of drivers and teams. In a clear demonstration of car control, Thompson navigated the #3 SCB Racing / Porsche Centre Victoria car around the drying track, executing four passes in the first seven laps. The performance earned him the Yokohama Tires Hard Charger Award, and the final step on the podium.
In Race 2 of GT3 Canada, a rare mistake from Thompson saw his Porsche make contact with a tire wall in turn eight. Continuing the race from the back of the field, a lengthy yellow flag resulting from a crash between drivers Metni and Dussault allowed Thompson to rejoin the main group and improve his position. Piloting a car with front end damage, he would work his way up to 5th position before the 45-minute race expired.
This incredible weekend marked the 100th race of Thompson’s young career, and performing double duty was a fitting celebration of that milestone. Since 2015, Thompson has had a steady career, earning wins in every type of car he has raced. In one-hundred races, he has earned 55 podiums and 26 race wins. His lifetime winning and podium percentages are outstanding by any measure, but Thompson’s numbers this season are even more impressive. In 2019, he has won exactly a third of his races, and placed on the podium more than three quarters of the time.
After one weekend off, Thompson will resume his busy schedule on July 26th with three consecutive race weekends in Indy Pro 2000, IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge Canada, and the Canadian Touring Car Championship. He is currently second place in overall championship standings for Indy Pro 2000 and GT3 Canada, and he is leading the Canadian Touring Car Championship GTS standings.
Innisfail hosts Sports Hall of Fame Golf Tournament August 8th- Reserve your spot!
As your plans and commitments for this summer start to fill your calendar, we hope that you have had a chance to set aside August 8 for the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame and Museum annual golf tournament.
On August 8, 2019, we will be having our annual golf tournament at Innisfail Golf Club. The Alberta Sports Hall of Fame has strived to preserve and celebrate Alberta’s exceptional athletes, builders, pioneers, and teams for over 62 years. Each year the Golf Tournament brings together our Honoured Members, Inductees, sporting organizations and the community for a great day of golf and networking. The Golf Tournament is a major fundraiser for ASHFM and allows us to continue to bring sports history and education to Albertans and inspire the future Hall of Famers. Your support in the past few years is very much appreciated and we hope that you will be one of our special guests this year. I have enclosed the tournament sponsorship opportunities and a golf registration if you would like to join us for our Golf Tournament this year.
Please call Kayli at 403-341-8614 if you have any questions or concerns regarding our golf tournament sponsorship or participation.
Click to visit the website.
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