A re-up with the Raptors will also tell us what Leonard doesn't prioritize: location, brand-building opportunities, superteams and all the hullabaloo that would follow his decision to relocate to, say, the Lakers. It's not exactly revelatory to say Leonard has little time for the nonsense associated with fame, but his sticking with Toronto would also show he's not bothered by incessant questions about his future.
But the Raptors aren't built to last. Lowry, Gasol, VanVleet and Ibaka will hit free agency in 2020. If Leonard returns, it'll have to be on a short-term deal, and all the questions about what's next will follow him.Maybe the speculation and guesswork that defined his time in Toronto didn't bother him because he never engaged with it. Because he just kept quiet.
There would be nothing quiet about Leonard's life as a Laker. Even if LeBron James shouldered the brunt of the media responsibilities, Leonard would still face more noise with the franchise than he's ever endured. Choosing a destination so antithetical to his no-nonsense makeup, then, would indicate Leonard values what L.A. offers more than his desire avoid the negatives that come with life under a microscope.
That's a possibility with appeal to any player of Leonard's caliber, regardless of disposition. Who wouldn't want to team up with two other perennial MVP candidates and see what kind of destruction they could visit upon the rest of the NBA?
Of course, the Lakers aren't a sure thing. The Lakers have operated chaotically for several years, and Leonard's only professional experiences involved the almost comically hyperfunctional Spurs and last year's Raptors, who also seemed to have everything figured out. It would come as a surprise if Leonard decided culture and stability were no longer priorities.
The Clippers front office, led by president of basketball operations Lawrence Frank and GM Michael Winger, has built a flexible, professional, grown-up operation that should appeal to any player, especially one who's seen how good organizations look from the inside.
The Clippers can't advertise the star power or recent success the Lakers and Raptors, respectively, can. So choosing the other L.A. team would tell us Leonard is more of a big-picture, forward-thinking type. With the Clips, he'd get a readymade supporting cast of veterans (mostly at below-market deals) and young talent, with several incoming picks to provide down-the-road help.