If you’re hoping for insight into what Kawhi Leonard will do this summer, you’re going to be disappointed.
When it comes to the future, Dennis Robertson — known by most as “Uncle Dennis,” Leonard’s “business strategist” and career advisor — is just as forthcoming as Leonard himself. Which is to say, not at all. Uncle Dennis has long been rumored to be the guy pushing Leonard toward Los Angeles (for marketing reasons), but pushing Leonard around off the court is about as easy as pushing him around on it. Doesn’t really work. Leonard is going to get to his spot, wherever that is.
However, in a rare interview, Robertson does tell Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports Leonard’s perspective on why it was time to leave San Antonio and the Spurs. It all ties back to dealing with the quadriceps tendinopathy that sidelined him most of the previous season (and led to a lot of “load management” days this regular season).
“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.”
Was the miscommunication that severe? Did Robertson and others around Leonard use this to drive a wedge in there and help get him out of San Antonio? Those answers will always be a matter of perspective.
Robertson said the initial disappointment on their end about being traded to Toronto was not about the city or the team so much as not getting to go home to Los Angeles as he had hoped. However, Robertson spoke highly of Toronto and said that Leonard was trying to live in the moment, enjoy the finals, and show everyone just how great a player he is and how much he has worked on his craft and game to get here. This is the Finals, this is where Leonard wants to be.
Will making the Finals keep Leonard in Toronto? Robertson isn’t touching that one. As for the future, here is the vague, cliche-filled response everyone should have expected from a member of Leonard’s inner circle.
“I can’t get into other free agents and other teams, but for Kawhi, he’s going to take it one day and one game at a time,” Robertson told Yahoo Sports. “We have a championship opportunity in front of us. We’re not thinking about free agency; it’s the Warriors [right now]. Once we get through the season, we’ll turn our attention to free agency. But we’re just having fun right now. This has been a great year.”
We all know there is zero chance that future plans have not been discussed by Leonard and his inner circle, but they are not about to leak anything either way.
Rumors will fly around as rumors do this summer, but we’re not really going to know what Leonard thinks until it is announced. Sources around the league have said this seems to be a two-team race, either he stays with the Raptors or comes to Los Angeles with the Clippers. Other teams will make a run but seem to have little shot at getting in the conversations.
What he decides will have ripple effects across the league. Leave Toronto and the Raptors will likely try to trade Kyle Lowry and other older stars, starting a rebuilding process. Choose Toronto and the Clippers become bigger players in the rest of free agency and could get in on trade talks for names like Anthony Davis and Bradley Beal (if he becomes available).
For now, we should just enjoy watching Leonard play basketball. He is going to make life difficult for the Warriors.