Insider thinks Leonard will give Nets ‘a fair hearing’ in free agency

Kawhi Leonard will become an unrestricted free-agent in 2019.

Toronto Raptors star forward Kawhi Leonard will be an unrestricted free agent next summer, and while everyone believes he will leave Canada after one season and head to Los Angeles, two insiders believe the Brooklyn Nets could be a possibility as well.

NBA.com’s David Aldridge thinks Leonard will give the Nets a fair hearing during free agency. Brooklyn general manager Sean Marks was an assistant coach with the San Antonio Spurs and not only has a great rapport with Leonard, but also with Leonard’s uncle and advisor, Dennis Robertson.

“Marks is his own man and his staff has its own tale to tell Leonard and his representatives,” Aldridge wrote in his weekly mailbag column. “Unless Marks rubbed Leonard the wrong way somehow in the 210 [area code for San Antonio] and there’s absolutely no evidence I know of indicating that, I think Leonard will give the Nets a fair hearing next July.”

The Nets are prioritizing cap space for the summer of 2019 when they’ll potentially have money to sign two max contract players. Per NetsDaily.com, Brooklyn has 10 former Spurs employees in the organization.

Aldridge isn’t the only insider who thinks the Nets have a puncher’s chance to land Leonard. Bruce Arthur of the Toronto Star went on a Canadian podcast a few weeks ago and said Leonard has been calling fellow stars about joining forces in 2019, and not just in Los Angeles.

“One thing I was told last night is that Kawhi Leonard had already been planning out his free agency next year,” Arthur said. “He had already been in contact with other star players in the league saying, ‘hey where might you want to play with me? What are we looking at?’ And it wasn’t just LA he was talking about. Brooklyn was maybe somewhere that was going to have a ton of cap space, that might have been a possibility. But Kawhi has already been thinking ahead to pairing up and trying to play at the highest level.”

The Raptors can offer Leonard almost $50 million more than any other team in 2019, including a fifth year.