Raptors release statement on departures of Kawhi Leonard, Danny Green

Despite finally pulling off the acquisition of Anthony Davis from the New Orleans Pelicans, the Lakers freed up enough cap space for a run at Leonard. Not only that, but Leonard helped mastermind a trade that brought Paul George to the Clippers from the Oklahoma City Thunder.

No team was busier than the Clippers' Staples Center co-tenants, the Lakers. But that wasn't enough to make Leonard stay in Canada for the long haul. But Toronto couldn't give up what the Clippers were able to.

Leonard was also being pursued by the Los Angeles Lakers and the Toronto Raptors, the team he led to last season's National Basketball Association title. The Los Angeles Clippers won the race to get Kawhi Leonard's signature, convincing the free agent forward to join their team on a four-year max contract. He was unbelievably fun to coach, just locked in and loaded and ready to go.

"I think you can't blame a guy for wanting to go home", Nurse said, via ESPN.com.

"And I just said, 'You've changed a lot of lives, man, by what you've accomplished in Toronto".

The Raptors made clear: They considered Leonard the top player in the game, and he performed at a level worthy of that moniker. Boston also lost two major free agents in Kyrie Irving and Al Horford and countered that by adding Kemba Walker and Enes Kanter.

Centre Marc Gasol has already agreed to return to the Raptors next season. The Raptors still have veteran leaders Kyle Lowry, Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka, plus talented young players Siakam, Fred VanVleet and OG Anunoby.

The best season in Raptors history won't soon be forgotten, and nor will Leonard. The Clippers are a better team at the moment, and if they meet in the conference finals, the Clips will probably win. The Milwaukee Bucks, who had the league's best record in the regular season, lost Malcolm Brogdon to in, but should still be a power with Gianis Antetokounmpo, plus Khris Middleton and Brook Lopez. For the first time since the Clippers moved to Los Angeles in 1983, both teams will be equally excited and equally desperate for success.

But fans can't expect the 25-year-old to step immediately into Leonard's superstar shoes.

  • Angelo Rivera