NBA star and San Diego State University alum Kawhi Leonard reportedly will make his home with the Los Angeles Clippers.
The decision ends days of fevered speculation over the free agent’s destination. Leonard will leave the Toronto Raptors where he received series MVP honors after leading the team to its first NBA championship last month.
Pulling up stakes however, will bring him closer to home.
Leonard hails from Riverside County, where San Diego State recruited him. He played for the Aztecs for two seasons before declaring for the NBA draft.
Reports indicated Leonard would most likely end up with the Raptors, Clippers or Los Angeles Lakers. The Clippers also added forward Paul George in a trade with the Oklahoma City Thunder. George, a Southland native as well, has roots in Palmdale.
As NBA.com put it, “Imagine: The Clippers just upstaged the Lakers in an offseason where the Lakers added (Anthony) Davis to join LeBron James.”
ESPN reported that Leonard played a key role in ensuring George ended up with him on the Clippers.
A source close to George told the network, “For a quiet guy, he’s a hell of a recruiter.”
Leonard, who has not commented during his free-agent saga, inspired rumor frenzy regarding his choice. Some pundits tracked the comings and goings of private flights into and out of Toronto, and even San Diego, to try to figure out what team had the advantage in signing Leonard.
It was unclear if the former Aztec was even on any of the flights.
Leonard spent one season with the Raptors after several with the San Antonio Spurs, where he was part of the 2014 NBA champions.
– Staff reports