24 years in the making, 2019 was finally the dream season.
Toronto Raptors fans and management can look back at the time when Vince Carter was the team’s superstar.
A Carter jump shot in 2001 that just clanked off the rim in a game 7 second-round series against Philadelphia was the farthest the Raptors had ever advanced in chasing the Larry O’Brien trophy.
It wasn't until 2016 when the Raptors lost to Cleveland in an Eastern Conference Final series would Canada’s team advance past the second round of the NBA playoffs.
June 13th, 2019 was the night that Raptors team president and general manager Masai Ujiri and Bobby Webster planned for and executed which no other Raptor’s management team has been able to do.
However, all good things may come to an end. A risky deal that brought a player in the conversation as potentially the best in this generation, Kawhi Leonard, paid off in spades.
The Raptors were questioned about the wisdom of trading a talent like DeMar DeRozan for a player coming off of an injury that cost him a year in his career and has the option of an opt out of his contract this June.
Ultimately, this experiment paid off, as the Raptors were crowned as the champions, a year after their painful exit at the hands of the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Here is a look at three burning questions for the Toronto Raptors heading into the 2019 offseason:
#3 Will Kawhi Leonard re-sign?
This is perhaps the single most important question in the history of the Toronto franchise. Will the 2019 Finals MVP, Kawhi Leonard, remain a Toronto Raptors player beyond this season? The answer is unclear and Kawhi Leonard is not a talkative guy.
If money gets this basketball superstar known affectionately as the”Klaw” out of bed in the mornings, the Raptors are likely to have a maximum contract with his name on it totaling $190 million over 5 years or the equivalent over 3 years whichever length deal he prefers.
Leonard has already lost money in whatever he decides to do this offseason when he was traded from San Antonio to Toronto and leaving Toronto so soon after leaving San Antonio further erodes his earning potential (Toronto can offer him more than any other team).
His departure also creates a huge hole to fill. Pascal Siakam has become a rising star, from his drafting at #27, in the 2016 NBA draft.
This year, Siakam's third, saw him become a huge part of the Toronto Raptors. However, its unlikely Siakam is on Kawhi Leonard’s level as early as next season.
Further, with no first-round draft pick at the 2019 NBA Draft thanks to the deal to acquire Leonard, there is no young talent like Siakam coming to the rescue in 2019.
As quickly as the Raptors found the answer to winning it all, that formula may reveal itself to be quick and fleeting. A returning Leonard means the Raptors are likely poised to defend their crown.