Raptors president: Kawhi Leonard ‘seems in the right frame of mind’
Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri on Tuesday spoke glowingly of Kawhi Leonard, stressing in his comments that the superstar is happy, healthy and eager to contribute.
“He is determined and seems in the right frame of mind,” Ujiri said. “You will be hearing from him shortly. I think there is a fire inside of him, and we are all excited about that.”
The prevailing belief is Toronto is merely a pit stop before Leonard heads west to join either the Lakers or Clippers in free agency after the coming season. Despite the widespread speculation, Ujiri insisted in his comments that Leonard appears committed to the franchise.
Leonard, who has yet to speak publicly since being dealt to the Raptors all the way back on July 18, has worked out with team coaches a handful of times and visited Toronto on a few occasions since the trade, Ujiri added. The Raptors president pointed out the organization has no plans to treat Leonard any differently in light of the toxic dysfunction that plagued the superstar’s final year with the San Antonio Spurs.
“There is nothing we are going to do different. We are going to be ourselves. I think the situation with him in San Antonio, which I don’t want to talk about because I don’t know much about it, but he’s a quiet kid,” Ujiri said. “That’s his nature. We can’t all be the same kind of people. But he is as engaging as he would want to be, and he’s very interesting. There is no maintenance with him. There are no tons of people around him. His [focus] is on basketball, which is what you want. He is a basketball junkie.”
Regardless of how things ultimately play out, the Raptors — not to mention the team’s fans — are thrilled to have Leonard in the fold. Now it will be up to the team to prove to Leonard that remaining in Toronto is in his best interests.