Toronto Raptors superstar Kawhi Leonard seriously considers staying north of the border, albeit on a short-term deal, as reported by Sr. NBA insider Marc Stein of the New York Times.

One of the topics Steins discussed on this week's newsletter is the strong possibility of Leonard signing a two-year, $70 million contract with a player option on the second year.

The NBA insider also brought up the scenario of Leonard signing a three-year deal with a player option on the third year, allowing him to hit the free agency market once more in 2022.

“It has been suggested that a so-called 2 + 1 deal with the Raptors — signing a two-year deal with a player option in Year 3 — would also hold appeal for Leonard, since he would then be eligible for a higher maximum contract in the summer of 2021 after completing his 10th season,” Stein stated in his newsletter.

Six-Team race for the Klaw

With Kevin Durant expected to sit out next season as he recovers from a ruptured Achilles, Leonard has emerged as the No.1 free agent entering July 1.

Multiple teams have expressed interested in acquiring the service of the two-time NBA Finals MVP, but only a handful of them would get a one-on-one meeting.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN revealed the Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Clippers, New York Knicks, Brooklyn Nets, the Philadelphia 76ers, and the Raptors are the teams expected to make their pitches for Leonard in Los Angeles. Toronto will be making the final presentation for their superstar as the “incumbent often prefers to go last in trying to convince a player to stay with the team.”

In Masai we trust

Masai Ujiri held his end-of-the-season press conference this week, where he discussed the Raptors’ free agency plans and of course the big elephant in the room – the Kawhi Leonard free agency situation.

Before everything else, Ujiri clarified that he wants to stay in Toronto for a long time, shutting down the rumors that he’s entertaining the Washington Wizards’ multi-million offer for him to run its front-office.

That statement serves as the first big domino to fall in favor of the Raptors as knowing that Ujiri, the master architect behind the team’s championship run, intends to stay in Toronto only assures stability in the front office in the next few years.

Ujiri is aware that the Raptors have a real shot at repeating as NBA champions next season if he can keep Leonard and the rest of their championship core.

Marc Gasol already exercises his player option for next season worth $25.6 million, while Serge Ibaka, Kyle Lowry, and Fred VanVleet are entering the final year of their deals.

It only means the Raptors will have significant cap flexibility beyond 2020 (around $90 million in cap space), giving them the leverage of upgrading their roster just as when Leonard hits his prime.

Of course, everything will start with Leonard.