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Report: Raptors unlikely to keep Kawhi Leonard as he ‘hates the cold’

The Toronto Raptors are holding out hope of somehow convincing Kawhi Leonard to remain with the team instead of leaving as a free agent after the 2018-19 NBA season. And while reports suggest Leonard may be “warming to the idea” of playing in Toronto, the superstar’s dislike of the region’s cool weather may prove to be a meteorological stumbling block.

According to an anonymous NBA GM, Leonard’s experience at the 2016 All-Star Game in Toronto made it clear he’s no fan of wintry weather. And harboring such a distaste for Toronto’s climate could be a non-starter for Leonard.

“No chance,” the GM said, via Bleacher Report’s Ric Bucher. “He was in the All-Star Game there. Never left his room. He hates the cold.”

The narrative since Leonard was dealt to the Raptors from the Spurs in Wednesday’s blockbuster trade is that Leonard has no desire whatsoever to play in Toronto. While the report of Leonard warming up to the concept sounds encouraging, the odds of the superstar signing a long-term deal with the Raptors seems slim to none. After all, Leonard’s camp has long indicated his desire to join the Los Angeles Lakers one way or another.

To suspect the Spurs shipped him Toronto due to the weather seems unlikely. Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich has stated he “couldn’t be happier” with the deal, although what else was he supposed to say? That said, the manner in which the Spurs’ seemingly passive-aggressive send-off to Leonard nevertheless speaks volumes.

And as far as Leonard’s future in Toronto? At this point it’s nearly as difficult to predict as the weather.