When asked to comment on Kawhi Leonard’s departure to LA, Raptors’ coach Nick Nurse couldn’t find it in himself to be resentful. A gag of media types caught up with him during Las Vegas Summer League play in the hopes of catching him afoul, but Nurse was wise to it – admitting to his disappointment, while ultimately empathizing with Kawhi’s decision.
“I think you can’t blame a guy for wanting to go home,” Nurse said Saturday evening.”That’s what he texted me today. ‘I’m going home.’ And I just said, ‘You’ve changed a lot of lives, man, by what you’ve accomplished in Toronto. Mine especially.’ And thanked him for what he did, and we’ll look to the future, and we’ll look to [win a title] again.”
Notice how Nurse uses aspirational language in describing his team’s title defense in 2020, despite conceding the loss of Kawhi Leonard, the out and out “difference maker” for a team stuck in liminal space.
Nurse also admitted one other thing Raptors can’t be faulted for losing sigh of in the past 24hrs: Kawhi’s departure after 2018-2019 was something they came to grips with right from the onset of his acquisition (last summer).
“I was just hanging out with a couple of the assistants,” Nurse continued. “Got the text message and then got the news report quickly afterward. I’m not totally surprised. I think we all knew that [Leonard’s departure] was a situation that could happen. He delivered big-time, played his heart out for us. We certainly are going to relish this championship for a long time. And we’re going to stop celebrating it pretty soon.”