The Raptors are the even-money favorite to land Kawhi Leonard

The recruitment of Kawhi Leonard has been a long and strange one. And another turn was added on Thursday when OddsShark declared the Toronto Raptors as even-money favorites to land the services of the Spurs superstar for the upcoming season.

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Favorites to land Kawhi Leonard
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Favorites to land Kawhi Leonard

Brooklyn Nets: +2500

Via OddsShark

(Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)

Houston Rockets: +2000

Via OddsShark

(Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images)

Cleveland Cavaliers: +2000

Via OddsShark

(Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images)

New York Knicks: +1500

Via OddsShark

(Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)

Milwaukee Bucks: +1000

Via OddsShark

(Photo by Rocky Widner/Getty Images)

Boston Celtics: +800

Via OddsShark

(Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images)

Philadelphia 76ers: +800

Via OddsShark

(Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)

Los Angeles Clippers: +600

Via OddsShark

(Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)

Los Angeles Lakers: +500

Via OddsShark

(Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

San Antonio Spurs: +400

Via OddsShark

(Photos by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images)

Toronto Raptors: Even

Via OddsShark

(Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
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Kawhi Leonard’s summer has been a strange one

Leonard has been steadfast in his approach to free agency: He wants to be a Los Angeles Laker, even following the team’s addition of LeBron James. Leonard, who will be a free agent following next season, is a Los Angeles native and even reached out to James regarding the two playing together.

Still, there’s been almost no progress on Leonard’s possible destinations over the last few weeks. Leonard grew frustrated with the Spurs’ handling of his quadriceps injury last season, and though Leonard has met with head coach Gregg Popovich, reports emerged that Leonard has also hid from his coaches during the regular season. The Spurs’ asking price for him has been astronomical. Again, there remain more questions than answers.

The Raptors are emerging as contenders

The Raptors’ ascent up the odds charts is an intriguing one, especially because James’ path to Los Angeles took a similar one among the oddsmakers.

Per Tim Bontemps of The Washington Post, the Raptors emerged at the NBA Summer League, which, coincidentally, takes place in Las Vegas.

The Toronto Raptors also generated buzz as a potential destination for Leonard. With LeBron James out of the Eastern Conference, perhaps Raptors President of Basketball Operations Masai Ujiri is willing to swing for the fences and move DeMar DeRozan or Kyle Lowry in such a deal.

As Bontemps mentioned, though, acquiring Leonard would likely cost DeRozan or Lowry, the two stars that helped Toronto to the top seed in the Eastern Conference last year. On the other hand, that duo is yet to take the team over the hump (mostly thanks to James’ presence in the East), and with James now out West, adding Leonard could take the team to the next level.

Leonard, 27, is a two-time Defensive Player of the Year, a two-time All-NBA selection and an NBA Finals MVP. When healthy, he is arguably the best two-way player in the game. But his health — and his role in managing it — are red flags. He played in just nine games last year.

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Kawhi Leonard through his career
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Kawhi Leonard through his career
San Diego State Aztecs' Kawhi Leonard (L) and Connecticut Huskies' Kemba Walker scramble for a loose ball during the second half of their NCAA West Regional college basketball game in Anaheim, California March 24, 2011. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)
Kawhi Leonard stands with NBA Commissioner David Stern after being selected by the Indiana Pacers as the 15th overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft in Newark, New Jersey June 23, 2011. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)
San Antonio Spurs' Kawhi Leonard (L) goes to the basket against Chicago Bulls' Joakim Noah (C) and Taj Gibson during the second half of their NBA basketball game in Chicago, February 11, 2013. REUTERS/Jim Young (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)
San Antonio Spurs' Tim Duncan (C), Kawhi Leonard (L) and Manu Ginobili celebrate after a basket against the Miami Heat in the first half during Game 3 of their NBA Finals basketball playoff in San Antonio, Texas June 11, 2013. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)
May 31, 2014; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard (2) attempts a shot against the Oklahoma City Thunder during the fourth quarter in game six of the Western Conference Finals of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 29, 2013; Orlando, FL, USA; San Antonio Spurs small forward Kawhi Leonard (2) is pressured by Orlando Magic shooting guard Arron Afflalo (4) during the first half at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 15, 2014; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard (2) dunks the ball during the second quarter against the Miami Heat in game five of the 2014 NBA Finals at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 21, 2014; Sacramento, CA, USA; San Antonio Spurs guard Tony Parker (9) and forward Kawhi Leonard (2) between plays against the Sacramento Kings during the first quarter at Sleep Train Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
May 29, 2014; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard (2) shoots over Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant (35) during the second half in game five of the Western Conference Finals of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports
Miami Heat's LeBron James (R) looks to pass around San Antonio Spurs' Kawhi Leonard during the first quarter in Game 2 of their NBA Finals basketball series in San Antonio, Texas, June 8, 2014. REUTERS/Mike Stone (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)
Jun 15, 2014; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard (2) celebrates in the locker room with the Finals MVP trophy after defeating the Miami Heat in game five of the 2014 NBA Finals at AT&T Center. The Spurs defeated the Heat 104-87 to win the NBA Finals. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 26, 2014; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard (2) poses for a picture during media day at Spurs Practice Facility. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 28, 2014; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs small forward Kawhi Leonard (2) gets his NBA championship ring from San Antonio Spurs owner Peter Holt before the game against the Dallas Mavericks at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports
April 22, 2015; Los Angeles, CA, USA; San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard (2) during the second half in game two of the first round of the NBA Playoffs. at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 13, 2016; Toronto, Ontario, Canada; Western Conference forward Kawhi Leonard of the San Antonio Spurs (2) looks on during practice for the NBA All Star game at Ricoh Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports / Reuters Picture Supplied by Action Images (TAGS: Sport Basketball NBA) *** Local Caption *** 2016-02-13T174655Z_1762526181_NOCID_RTRMADP_3_NBA-ALL-STAR-PRACTICE.JPG
Jan 12, 2017; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs small forward Kawhi Leonard (2) shoots the ball over Los Angeles Lakers small forward Luol Deng (9) during the first half at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 19, 2017; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs small forward Kawhi Leonard (2) talks with head coach Gregg Popovich during the second half against the Sacramento Kings at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 22, 2017; Memphis, TN, USA; San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard (2) reacts during the first half against the Memphis Grizzlies in game four of the first round of the 2017 NBA Playoffs at FedExForum. Mandatory Credit: Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports
May 14, 2017; Oakland, CA, USA; San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard (2) reacts after an injury during the third quarter in game one of the Western conference finals of the 2017 NBA Playoffs against the Golden State Warriors at Oracle Arena. The Warriors defeated the Spurs 113-111. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
May 20, 2017; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs small forward Kawhi Leonard (in suit) watches from the bench against the Golden State Warriors during the first half in game three of the Western conference finals of the NBA Playoffs at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 2, 2018; New York, NY, USA; San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard (2) reacts with San Antonio Spurs guard Tony Parker (9) against the New York Knicks during the second half at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports
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The Raptors, like other favorites Los Angeles, Boston and Philadelphia, have the young pieces to make an attractive trade package, and they also hold control of their first-round draft picks for the foreseeable future. The updated odds could be nothing. But perhaps Vegas is onto something.

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