Leonard always wanted to go home.
Kawhi Leonard is easily one of the best players in the entire NBA and this summer, he was the biggest free agent on the market. In the end, Leonard's decision came down to three teams including the Toronto Raptors, Los Angeles Lakers, and Los Angeles Clippers. Leonard ended up choosing the Clippers as it allowed him to go back home while also being the number one option on a contending team.
Leonard had just come off of a championship win with the Raptors, so there were rumblings he might come back. In an interview with Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated, Raptors star Pascal Siakim spoke about Leonard's departure and the text he sent the Raptors group chat when he left.
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“[Leonard] texted the group chat saying, ‘Yeah, I’m going home. I appreciate you guys and what we did was special.’ That’s how I found out,” Siakam said. “We all knew that he wanted to go home, for sure. But when we won the championship, we were like, ‘OK, there is a chance [he stays].’ I felt like there was a real chance after we won that maybe he would consider us more. But we all knew the way Kawhi is. Home was really important to him. I thought it could go either way. But I wasn’t surprised he went home.”
Based on Siakim's comments, it's clear Leonard has a ton of respect for his former Raptors teammates and wanted to make sure they knew where he was coming from before moving on. Needless to say, it looks as though both sides are happy with how everything went down.