Kawhi Leonard rumors: Clippers emerging as front-runner to land Raptors star in 2019 free agency

Kawhi Leonard will be a free agent in 2019, and Jimmy Butler wants out of Minnesota. Could both end up with the Clips?

Both Kawhi Leonard and Jimmy Butler have requested trades from their respective teams this offseason, and both could wind up on the same team by 2019.

According to a report from ESPN in the wake of Butler's trade request on Wednesday, the Timberwolves' unhappy star is reportedly "most interested" in pursuing a future with the Clippers. That gives them a strong chance to hit the star player jackpot, because in the midst of all this, the Clippers have reportedly also emerged as a favorite to land Leonard.

Here's an excerpt from the story reported by ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski and how it could be possible:

"The Clippers have two max contract slots available in July. They are emerging as a front-runner for Kawhi Leonard when Toronto's All-NBA forward becomes a free agent in July, league sources said."

Leonard had a rocky relationship with the Spurs, which led to him requesting a trade. When he did so, his preference was reportedly L.A.; Instead, he was shipped to the Toronto Raptors in a July blockbuster. So it should come as no surprise that Leonard's interest in the City of Angels has yet to fade.

Given that Leonard's contract expires next summer, he could re-sign with Toronto — or leave for another team, like, say, the Clippers — in free agency in 2019. Because Butler is still under contract through 2020 with Minnesota, however, a Kawhi-Butler pairing in L.A., despite two open max slots, would only be made possible if the Wolves dealt their star to his preferred destination.

And as we've learned in the case of Kawhi, where a star prefers to be traded — and where he's actually traded — can sometimes be two different places.

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