Fan anxiety grows around Kawhi Leonard, who could stretch out decision process

first_img Trail Blazers, Grizzlies advance to NBA play-in game; Suns, Spurs see playoff dreams dashed Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error Trail Blazers beat Grizzlies in play-in, earn first-round series with the Lakers On Day 4, Kawhi Leonard mania took to the skies.Feverish for an answer from the 28-year-old forward as he chooses between the Lakers, Clippers and Toronto Raptors for next season, a group of internet sleuths learned of a private plane taking off from L.A. to Toronto, and got a tip that the Raptors were meeting Leonard in a Toronto hotel.By midday on Wednesday, a Canadian television station CP24 was airing live footage from Pearson Airport, capturing images of a person believed (but not confirmed) to be Leonard. A helicopter tracked SUVs believed to be a Leonard caravan to the hotel, where a crowd of hopeful Canadians were waiting.Such was the fervor and the anticipation that many fans are feeling as Leonard draws out his decision process even longer. And the wait might continue even deeper into the week. While many free agents have already committed, other moves might free up candidates for the Lakers to sign down the road. A reported trade between Phoenix and Memphis will land veteran shooter Kyle Korver with the Suns, who are expected to buy out his contract. ESPN reported that the Lakers are interested in the 38-year-old forward once he becomes a free agent. LAKERS CAP CALIFORNIA CLASSIC WITH A WINThanks to two-way contract player Zach Norvell, the Lakers left Sacramento a winner: The Gonzaga product’s game-winning 3-pointer was the difference in a 99-97 victory over the host Kings in the third game of Summer League on Tuesday afternoon.The Lakers, who trailed by 21 with seven minutes left and were still down by nine with 2:16 left, were led by Jordan Howard (25 points). Norvell, however, had the heroics with his go-ahead bucket with four seconds remaining. The Lakers finished 2-1 at the California Classic.They’ll resume play in Las Vegas after the holiday, opening against the Chicago Bulls on Friday at 4:30 p.m. PDT at the Thomas and Mack Center. Assistant Miles Simon will take over coaching duties for South Bay Lakers coach Coby Karl, who led from the sideline in Sacramento.center_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREUCLA alum Kenny Clark signs four-year contract extension with PackersThe frenzy hasn’t seemed to speed up the deliberate pace of the 6-foot-7 forward as he plods along in the first unrestricted free agency of his career. A report from The Athletic cited that Leonard was unlikely to make a decision late Wednesday night, and could still be days away from agreeing to his next contract, which is expected to be a multi-year max deal that has three teams virtually paralyzed as they preserve salary cap space for him.The Riverside native and San Diego State product has reportedly asked for media silence from his suitors as they recruit him. That has left details relatively scarce, though Leonard has now met with all three teams. Social media speculation however – as well as the occasional helicopter chase – has raged on, thanks to every other major free agent finding a new home within the first 24 hours of the starting gun.The Lakers are arguably the most vulnerable of the trio in their offseason moves: They’ve only confirmed six players for next season, and have limited tools and budget to build a roster whether Leonard arrives or not. While buoyed by All-Stars LeBron James and Anthony Davis, as well as returning starter Kyle Kuzma, the Lakers have only agreed to minimum deals with Troy Daniels and Jared Dudley, and they have just one draft pick, second-rounder Talen Horton-Tucker.Leonard’s decision also has the potential to push back the timing of other deals, which they can officially sign starting on July 6: Once over the salary cap, the Lakers can sign as many players to minimum contracts as they wish without it counting against their salary cap space. But the team won’t be over the cap until they agree to terms with Leonard (or whichever free agents they can sign if he goes elsewhere), meaning that other contracts will have to wait until Leonard’s decision should it stretch to Saturday.Related Articles Lakers, Clippers schedules set for first round of NBA playoffs How athletes protesting the national anthem has evolved over 17 years Lakers practice early hoping to answer all questions last_img read more