While there’s a long way to go until next July’s free agent period, the early returns on the Raptors‘ risky acquisition of Kawhi Leonard are encouraging, writes Josh Lewenberg at TSN.ca. While Leonard has looked a little rusty in the preseason, last season’s quad injury hasn’t been an issue at all, and Danny Green said this week that his longtime teammate has been “more vocal than he’s ever been” both on and off the court.
“It looks like he feels comfortable. It looks like he feels at home,” Green said of Leonard. “He’s talking to guys, he’s leading by example, in the huddles he’s chiming in, saying what he feels, saying his opinion. Before he didn’t really show or tell his opinion much.”
As Green pointed out, Leonard may feel more comfortable taking on a leadership role in Toronto than he did in San Antonio, where he was surrounded by veterans like Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker, and Tim Duncan, as well as a highly accomplished coach like Gregg Popovich. Whether he feels comfortable enough in Toronto to stick around for more than a year remains to be seen.
Here are a few more Raptors-related items:
- As Delon Wright enters a contract year, Eric Koreen of The Athletic explores the ways in which the Raptors would like to see his game develop, including an increased willingness to shoot the ball from beyond the arc.
- Wright could avoid restricted free agency in 2019 by reaching an agreement with the Raptors on a contract extension before next Monday’s deadline. Blake Murphy of The Athletic explores what such a deal might look like. In Murphy’s opinion, Toronto would likely jump at a contract in the neighborhood of $8MM per year, but Wright’s side could be justified in seeking something like $12MM annually. The club’s Fred VanVleet ($9MM per year) and Norman Powell ($10.5MM) deals figure to be points of comparison in negotiations with Wright.
- After the 2017/18 regular season success of the Raptors’ Bench Mob didn’t necessarily translate to the playoffs, new head coach Nick Nurse and his staff are “aiming for a whole new kind of depth” in 2018/19, says Scott Stinson of The National Post. Stinson expects Nurse to explore more piece-by-piece mixing and matching in his lineup, whereas last year’s team often employed two distinct five-man units.