Kawhi Leonard, Toronto Raptors Coach Nick Nurse Are Off To A Good Start
on Jul 30, 2018 02:37 AM EDT
Gauging from Toronto Raptors coach Nick Nurse's first interaction with superstar Kawhi Leonard, the two sides are headed for smooth sailing in the coming season.
Nurse and Leonard sat down together for the first time recently since the latter was traded by the San Antonio Spurs together with Danny Green to the Raptors for DeMar DeRozan, Jakob Poeltl, and a 2019 first-round pick.
Initially, Nurse said he didn't know what to expect since this was the first time he talked with Leonard. At first, Nurse said he's worried that Leonard might not say anything to him, considering the superstar's silent personality.
"I'd never talked to him before," Nurse says. "I don't think I'm alone in that. So you get a perception of him. I'll be honest with you. I kind of went in there thinking, 'What if he doesn't say anything? What am I going to do?'"
Leonard Threw Some Questions During Meeting
However, Nurse said it was different when he started interacting with Leonard, who requested for a trade from the Spurs because of the crack in their relationship stemming from his quad issue.
Nurse said he asked Leonard if he had any questions. Then the new Raptors player started asking one question after another. Nurse said Leonard's questions led to a more easygoing conversation.
"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," said Nurse, adding that he talked to Leonard for about 45 minutes.
"We could have gone forever. [Raptors management] kept knocking on the door, and I was like, 'A couple more minutes.' Because we were really into it. It was fun to listen to his take," said Nurse.
Nurse Discussed Leonard's Role With Raptors
During the 45-minute meeting, Nurse discussed how does he sees Leonard in the new Raptors system, with the superstar asking how he's going to be utilized by the new head coach.
Nurse told Leonard that he could basically do everything, including low-posting, driving, and bringing the ball down the floor. Leonard could also help through screen-and-roll and come off pindowns.
At some point during the meeting, Leonard joined Nurse in drawing up schemes on the white board. Nurse said he liked what he saw as this is an indication that Leonard is all-in with the Raptors next season.
Leonard has two years remaining in the five-year, $94.3 million contract that he signed with the Spurs in 2015. However, Leonard can opt out of the player option after this season and turn free agent in 2019.