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Leonard, DeRozan, Raptors And Spurs Set For Reunion Thursday Night

Sports News With The Latest From The MLB Kawhi Leonard’s final season with the San Antonio Spurs was an ugly affair. In his seventh year with the Spurs, the...

Sports News With The Latest From The MLB

Kawhi Leonard’s final season with the San Antonio Spurs was an ugly affair.

In his seventh year with the Spurs, the two-time All-Star, still injured from the previous playoff grind, appeared in only nine games. His rehab under team supervision of his right quadriceps went slowly, with both the Spurs and the player frustrated by his lack of progress.

Then, in July, the Spurs traded him. Leonard went with Danny Green to the Toronto Raptors for DeMar DeRozan, Jakob Poeltl and a 2019 first-round draft pick. No, DeRozan wasn’t happy either.

The teams meet Thursday night in San Antonio in Leonard’s first homecoming and DeRozan’s first look at his old team. The Spurs say they are trying to take the high road and put the lingering ill feelings in the past. They have, according to media reports, put together video tributes to Leonard and Green, but won’t show them if the crowd reaction to Leonard is negative.

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich says he hopes for the best.

“I don’t speak for other people, but I hope that they treat everybody with kindness and respect,” Popovich said. “We always have in the past, so we’ll see.”

The Raptors (28-11) have the second-best record in the NBA’s Eastern Conference; the Spurs (21-17) might struggle in the Western Conference to secure a playoff spot. Leonard, the NBA’s two-time Defensive Player of the Year, is playing a career-high 34.8 minutes a game and averaging 27.3 points a game, also a career best and fifth in the NBA. DeRozan, a four-time All-Star in nine seasons (all with Toronto), averages 22.9 points a game, in line with his work over the last five campaigns.

Leonard may be coming back to San Antonio, but not to the Spurs. The past is past.

“You move on,” Popovich said.

We’ll see what the fans think.

 
 
Post By: Larry Weisman, a longtime sportswriter for USA TODAY, blogs for Twistity.com. Follow him on Twitter @MrLarryWeisman

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