TORONTO – Two weeks from now, the Toronto Raptors’ roster might look as different as Danny Green’s combed-out mohawk with looming decisions from Kawhi Leonard, Marc Gasol and Green that brought an air of uncertainty to Monday’s street party in Ontario.
As the Raptors gathered with mobs of fans Monday to celebrate their NBA championship — the City of Toronto projected 1.5 million fans packed downtown — the next chapter for the Raptors will be on hold as a series of decisions that shape the future of the franchise are made.
“Holding that trophy, there’s nothing more special than that,” Ed Rogers, chairman of Rogers Communications, partial owner of the Raptors, said Monday. “The three of us are going to do everything we can to not make this a one-year thing, but make this a dynasty.”
Leonard will opt out of the final year of his contract to become a free agent. The Raptors expected this bit of paperwork even before Leonard was acquired from the San Antonio Spurs last summer. What they won’t know until at least June 30 is whether Leonard will ever wear a Toronto uniform again.
“Look at it — it’s crazy,” Leonard said Monday. “From the beginning, in training camp, we all focused on one goal so everyone can come into the season with the same goal.
“The last few days have been amazing. No sleep. A lot of celebrations. We’re going to keep going. Thank you, Toronto. Thank you for the support. We did it!”
The Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Clippers, New York Knicks, Brooklyn Nets, Chicago Bulls and others are known to have serious interest in signing Leonard. Of course, the Raptors hope he will choose to stay put after carrying the franchise to its first title.
“I don’t think there’s any other player of his caliber right now in the NBA,” Gasol said. “He’s on a pedestal by himself.”
Gasol also has a player option he could decline. If Leonard leaves, the exodus behind him could be devastating.
Four people sustained non-life-threatening gunshot wounds at the end of the parade, according to Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders. Three arrests were made.