Kawhi Leonard doesn’t say much. He doesn’t really need to.
When it came to letting his former coach Nick Nurse know of his decision during free agency, he stuck with that approach.
Nurse, who was still celebrating the Raptors’ NBA championship in Las Vegas at a Prince tribute show, got a text from Leonard.
“I’m going home,” it read, according to ESPN’s Jackie MacMullan.
The deal that happened close to midnight on the West Coast didn’t come as a complete shock to Nurse, MacMullan’s report noted.
“Nurse knew all along that Leonard was potentially a one-year rental. When he saw Kawhi’s text, he cursed, then exhaled, then resumed waving his arms to ‘Purple Rain.’ No one, he reasoned, tried to wrest the Larry O’Brien trophy away from him upon hearing the news.”
Leonard previously told ESPN he was “very close” to heading back to the Raptors — or signing with the Lakers — this summer. But, the 28-year-old forward ended up choosing the Clippers after they acquired his friend and fellow star Paul George in a trade with the Thunder.
“When (the Clippers) presented the opportunity of playing with Paul (George), it was easy, it was a yes,” Leonard said. “I said let’s get it going.”
Leonard entered free agency as one of the most sought after players. He was coming off one of the best postseason runs ever with the Raptors and averaged 30.5 points in the playoffs on his way to being named the Finals MVP.
Immediately after Leonard’s decision was finally made, both he and Nurse started to focus on their own upcoming seasons.
“I saw Fred (VanVleet) and Pascal (Siakam) the day after (Kawhi left),” Nurse said. “I told them, ‘There are 20-plus shots up for grabs.’ They both grabbed their right shoulders and said, ‘We’re ready.'”