How things can change is just a few years.
Today, Kawhi Leonard is in Toronto getting ready to take on the defending NBA champion Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals. But just one year ago, Kawhi’s career was at a crossroads as he and the Spurs had watched their once-strong relationship take an ugly turn.
After being at odds with the Spurs organization and playing just nine games due to injury, the two sides finally decided to part ways in the summer of 2018 when San Antonio shipped the 2014 Finals MVP to the Raptors.
So why did Kawhi feel it was time to leave the Spurs? What made his broken relationship with San Antonio so irreparable?
Kawhi’s uncle/career strategist, Dennis Robertson, recently spoke to Yahoo! Sports to explain. Here’s what “Uncle Dennis” had to say about Kawhi’s departure:
“I think it just became a lack of trust,” Robertson told Yahoo Sports. “They didn’t believe Kawhi couldn’t play and that caused a lack of trust in us and then us not believing in them. Any time a player says he’s not capable of playing, you should believe him. Why would Kawhi just stop playing all of a sudden? He’s a competitor. Sometimes you get these team doctors telling you what you can and cannot do, and Kawhi was just in too much pain to get out there. This was a serious issue. They didn’t believe him, and after that, the relationship couldn’t recover and we decided we had to move on.”
Kawhi eventually made a formal request to the Spurs to trade him in June 2018, and he was shipped to the Raps shortly after along with Danny Green in exchange for DeMar DeRozan, Jakob Poltl and a first round draft pick in 2019.
Should the Raptors go on to win the 2019 NBA title, they may want to consider sending a ring to every member of the Spurs’ medical staff.