The Board Man is gone. It’s the hard truth that Raptors fans are just starting to accept, but did we ever really stand a chance of keeping him? According to the Score, Kawhi Leonard's decision to head home and become a Clipper may have been the game plan all along, despite initial reports during “Kawhi Watch” suggesting that the Raptors were the leading contenders.
However, it's possible that the Raptors couldn't have even met the demands of Kawhi's camp if they wanted to. According to TSN’s Josh Lewenberg, Kawhi’s Uncle made several “unreasonable” requests during the talks that would’ve made it impossible for the Raptors to fulfill.
Lewenberg’s source revealed that the requests were so unreasonable that they actually made Raptors president Masai Ujiri and the entire organization question whether or not Leonard had any intent in re-signing with the team at all.
Masai on Kawhi's decision: "There's no time to go out and cry. Honestly, I've lost no sleep. I'm not disappointed.… https://t.co/IEZAMMRdby— Josh Lewenberg (@Josh Lewenberg)1562726369.0
Ujiri, who is respected by fans and the NBA for helping lead Toronto to its first-ever NBA Championship, hinted during a recent press conference that Kawhi himself was the only one not playing games with the team during negotiations.
When questioned about whether or not he felt Kawhi’s camp was being upfront during negotiations, Ujiri responded, “I think he was, Kawhi was.”
“I know what we’re dealing with here and I appreciate what the process was,” Ujiri added when pressed if he thought anyone misled him. “I know free agency; I know how it works. It’s not my first rodeo. You know things are going to go up and down. This was a different kind of free agency. It was high stakes, and we understood that.”
Did Masai think Kawhi was upfront with them throughout the process? Ujiri: "I think he was... (pause) Kawhi was."… https://t.co/PSCmtPUudZ— Josh Lewenberg (@Josh Lewenberg)1562726482.0
Obviously, there's no way of knowing exactly how Kawhi's free agency meetings with the Raptors went down. However, it’s nice to think that despite his departure, Kawhi remained respectful to the team that gave him his second championship ring.