After the big trade went through earlier this month, there were immediate concerns about the Kawhi Leonard Raptors relationship. There were even rumors that he had no interest in playing for the Canadian club.
Instead, the early signs have been pretty good for Toronto.
While it is still very unclear whether the team will have a chance to retain him, it sounds like they'll get a strong effort from one of the NBA's best players.
A big first Kawhi Leonard Raptors meeting took place this week.
He met with Nick Nurse, the team's new head coach a few days ago.
Nurse admitted that he was somewhat concerned about the meeting in an interview with the Toronto Star. Instead, things went extremely well.
When it got down to talking hoops, Leonard was all about it.
“I sat down and said, ‘Do you have any questions?’ And he started firing them,” Nurse said. “And it just led us to a really easygoing (conversation). Not what I was expecting. Very smart. Very intelligent. Very engaging. Really enjoyed it … (Management) had to drag us out of there in the end because they had to go do something else. But it was great.”
Surely, as the basketball talk with Leonard went on for some 45 minutes — and Leonard, in Nurse’s words, “lit up like a Christmas tree,” at one point rising to join Nurse diagramming schemes on the whiteboard — Nurse must have been breathing a sigh of relief. The incommunicative enigma who somehow had a falling out with the gold-standard franchise in San Antonio wasn’t some petulant nightmare. Instead, he sounded very much like a typical NBA player concerned about how he’ll fit with his new team, not to mention an elite NBA player deeply hooked on the game’s intricacies.
The Los Angeles franchises are the clear favorites to land Leonard, and there have been rumors that he'd look at some other big-market clubs. However, we just saw the Paul George play out in favor of the team that acquired him. The Raptors are hoping to have a repeat of that luck.