And if Leonard ultimately decides to leave, VanVleet jokes that the Raptors will simply have to “kick his ass next year.”
Leonard, 27, led the the Raps to their first NBA championship in franchise history, but has steadfastly refused to address his future plans.
“I think for us, there is nothing more that we can do. We’ve done it. The city has done it. This franchise had done it. The coaches have done it. My teammates have done it. We’ve done our job. The best way to recruit somebody is to just be yourself over the course of the year, and I would assume that he knows what is here and what makes this place special,” VanVleet said at the team’s first media availability since winning the NBA title.
“If it’s enough than it’s enough. If it’s not then it’s not. … We would all love for him to be back and if he’s not then we will move on from there. It’s not the biggest deal in the world. He came here and did what he was supposed to do. So he brought this city a championship and I think he has earned his freedom and his career to do what he wants to do and we’ll all respect him and admire him.”
VanVleet added that if Leonard “is on another team, then we just have to kick his ass next year,” drawing laughter from reporters in attendance. “Hopefully he’ll be back,” he said.
Raptors forward Pascal Siakam said of Leonard that the Raptors “definitely want him back.”