LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri said Tuesday he has met with Kawhi Leonard, who is days away from becoming a free agent, and is confident the NBA champions can re-sign the superstar.
Speaking at a season-ending news conference, Ujiri said he had “very good meetings with him the last few days” but declined to elaborate.
Wherever Leonard, who turns 28 on Saturday, chooses to sign, the Raptors “will respect his decision,” Ujiri said.
Ujiri’s words came amid numerous reports that Leonard has scheduled a meeting with the Los Angeles Clippers for July 2. The Clippers long have been considered a front-runner to sign Leonard, a Southern California native.
Elsewhere, the Houston Rockets have their sights set on acquiring Jimmy Butler once the NBA free-agency period begins Sunday, according to ESPN.
But since the Rockets don’t have the salary cap room to chase Butler as a free agent, the team is hoping to work out a sign-and-trade deal with the Philadelphia 76ers, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
Butler, who finished last season with the 76ers, is eligible to sign a four-year, $140 million contract as a free agent. The only way Houston could take on that type of salary would be to shed two or three contracts of their own.