Gregg Popovich Insists Kawhi Leonard Remained 'Great Teammate All The Way Through'

Ruben Holloway
July 19, 2018

While the impact Kawhi Leonard will ultimately have on the Toronto Raptors ability to win the National Basketball Association title won't be known for a while, Wednesday's trade has already vastly improved their betting odds to lift the Larry O'Brien trophy.

As you'd expect, Coach Pop was optimistic and honest during the 25-minute press conference - well, as honest as he could be, considering his relationship with Leonard wasn't always the best. "Kawhi obviously worked very hard to become the player he is and our staff worked very hard to help him get there and we wish him all the best as he moves on to Toronto", Popovich said. I think he's gonna be great. That deal reportedly includes trading Danny Green to Toronto as well. Getting LeBron James to sign with LA earlier this month was a big part of the plan, but it wasn't the whole plan. "We're thrilled to have him here".

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Leonard's contract expires following next season, making him one of the biggest targets in the 2019 free-agent class. There was also a relatively quick response from Leonard's camp, indicating that he has no desire to play in Toronto.

But as much as he's going to miss Green (and also probably Leonard), Popovich is pretty excited about what the future holds for the Spurs.

Towards the end of their time together in San Antonio, Leonard and Popovich's relationship became so strained that everyone sort of knew that their one-on-one meeting in the summer wasn't going to fix something that was well beyond repair.

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DeMar DeRozan #10 of the Toronto Raptors looks on during the closing second of the Raptors 106-98 loss to the Washington Wizards during Game Four of Round One of the 2018 NBA Playoffs at Capital One Arena on April 22, 2018 in Washington, DC. "But talking heads out there have to have stories, and I get it.But all those stories that denigrated him in that regard were unfortunate and inaccurate".

Shortly after the news broke that the San Antonio Spurs were sending Kawhi Leonard to the Toronto Raptors for Demar DeRozan, another report stated that the disgruntled superstar was prepared to take it up a notch and sit out the entire 2018-2019 season. "Kawhi conducted himself wonderfully while he was here".

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