Clippers star Kawhi Leonard relishing Raptors reunion
Los Angeles Clippers star Kawhi Leonard is looking forward to his reunion with reigning NBA champions the Toronto Raptors.
Leonard led the Raptors to their first NBA title last season before leaving Toronto for the Clippers via free agency.
A two-time NBA champion and Finals MVP, Leonard will reunite with the Raptors when the Clippers face Toronto on Monday and he is relishing the clash.
"It's going to be fun to see the guys," Leonard said. "And just congratulate them and be able to shake hands and compete."
Asked what he will remember about his one and only season with the Raptors after being dealt by the San Antonio Spurs, Leonard added: "The guys, the journey. Also the country. The city was amazing. And it's just so much, you can keep going on and talking about it.
"I never went in with a negative mindset. Playing with Cory Joseph in San Antonio, him being from that area in Toronto, I knew what the city kind of brought... I always felt positive with the trade and the front office.
"I knew it was great already with Masai [Ujiri] being in there. So it was never a negative thing, always open-minded about it."
Three-time All-Star Leonard is averaging 29.0 points, 8.1 rebounds and 5.4 assists per game with the Clippers this season.
"It's not like he left in bad terms, really," Clippers head coach Doc Rivers said about Leonard's Raptors exit.
"It's one of those leave-good situations, not one of those leave-awful situations, and let's be honest, in our league it's usually the other way. He's had the rare benefit of being able to leave in a happy state. Has it happened? If it is, it's rare."
Paul George teamed up with Leonard at the Clippers after leaving the Oklahoma City Thunder in the offseason and he could make his debut on Monday.
However, George – who has been recovering from shoulder surgery – is likelier to debut for the Clippers following the Raptors showdown, with games against the Houston Rockets and New Orleans Pelicans to come.
"It's going to take time for conditioning," Rivers said. "You don't not play - when did they lose? - yeah, he hasn't played since April and then you walk in a game in November... it's just not done. I don't know, I doubt he plays [Monday], but it's a possibility. It's possible I may play, too, for that matter. I don't know the answer. I really don't."