SAN ANTONIO – He was the other. Violation. The agreement was needed to balance books in the off-season, shaking the NBA and changing the trajectories of two franchises, two conferences and perhaps a league.
But what a guy is. What a chance to score. What value Danny Green has given to Toronto rings in the "Kawi Season".
The Raptors visit to San Antonio on Thursday was rounded up on the calendar for months. She promises to be among the most electrified moments anywhere in the NBA this season, with the types of subgroups for which a bowling performance will be advocated.
It's the first game that Kawhi Leonard will play at the AT & T Center in anything but a San Antonio Spurs uniform. The following season of mystery, intrigues and potentially severe feelings follows after Leonard departed from the team as he sought his advisor on a problematic thigh injury that he limited to nine matches. The image of Spurs as a franchise on the NBA model, the one where the family drama never became public, made a blow. Leonard and Spurs Split and "Raptors" thought the prize was rich enough that they split up with DeMar DeRozan, an icon of the franchise that was at the head of status status outside the Scotiabank Arena.
But more pieces are needed to include wages.
As tectonic plates shifted, Green-Leonard's teammate in seven seasons with Spurs – was relaxed in an off-season after what was a year-long attempt at San Antonio.
His phone rang.
"I was with my family, my girlfriend was with me, it was like at eight in the morning when I got the news," he said in a recent interview. "… I had several missed calls from Pop (Tottenham Hotspur and head coach Greg Popovich) and my agent, so at that moment I knew that something was done."
What was up was that it was out.
It ended with a fantastic run with Spurs, where he went from quitting his first round with the team in 2010-11, starting the year one year later.
He set the record for triples with the final in the 2013 NBA Finals when Tottenham lost to Miami Heat, they were part of their last championship in 2014, and in 2016-17 they won the NBA defender.
It's no wonder that Popovic's poorly populated façade faces the time to bring the news to one of his favorite players.
"It was a sad day for him. It was not just me, it was [Leonard]"Green said." I do not think he wanted to let any of us go, we were a family and we've been there for so many years. "
Green does not have any anxiety about returning to San Antonio as an opponent. He is eager for a chance to report to his house, for which he still did not understand what to do, and looks forward to seeing all known faces.
He does not expect special respect – "I doubt … I think they do it during retirement, guys who have a pension in the jersey. Maybe when I finish and I'll be back or something" – but it is guaranteed that he will be welcomed by the crowd he watched grew up.
Leonard? Well, the consensus is that it will wake up, although one would think of the championship that brought it to the city in 2014, when the final MVP could help to equalize things.
But Green is not emotional or bitter, and he does not feel like collateral damage in the division between his superstar colleague and Spurs. He knew that Raptors was good, he knew that the city was a good place to visit from a few stops in the NBA career. He also spent time working at Olympic camps in the Muskoka region north of the city, so there was little more familiarity.
But, most often, he was a veteran who saw others in the orbit around the major Spurs stars mingling around to keep the company pushing forward. Everyone has his own time.
"You know how this league is," he said. "… I saw how it was going: things changed. Nobody is really safe."
At one point, he looked ahead.
"I am a positive person. I see things in a positive light, it's human nature or my nature anyway," he said. "I already knew how to play (the raptors) … the more I watched and the more I learned I thought:" You know what? This could be really good. "
"And the fact with which I went (Leonard) helped even more."
While Green and Leonard came as a package, there are no guarantees that they will stay for one season. Both former Spurs have gone to a free agency this summer and while Green is open to nothing, last summer proved that something could happen.
"Obviously we do not know what will happen after this year," he said. "I would like to stay here (with Raptors), obviously, but we do not know. We do not know where [Leonard’s] we will be, we do not know many things (which) will happen.
"In terms of decision-making, (Leonard's future) affects everyone."
There are even more reasons to appreciate the Green in the present as it flourishes in the uniform of Raptors.
While San Antonio switched from an attack caused by the movement of the ball and cutting off a heavy attack with isolation, the triple percentage of Green's recording fell by an average of 35.7 percent in the past three years, while Spurs is still respectable, but a drop of 42, 3 per cent on average in the four seasons before which his two NBA Finals appearances were included. During those years, Green was out of the elite, while he was only behind Steph Curry and Kyle Corver for the accuracy of the shooters with at least 1,000 attempts.
But in the offense of Raptors with a ball that flies in and out, Green is in the best condition. He shoots 41.2 percent of the deep fourth in the league for the shooters with at least 200 attempts – and according to basketball-reference.com, he is part of all eight of the most successful configurations of the five celebrities of Raptors; six of their seven best four configurations; six of their best three combinations and four of the top five sets of two.
He proves that the problematic health problems that he was troubled last year – he struggled with what he thought was semen, but was revealed to be a sports hernia after the season – were not chronic for any progress or sign of a 31-year slowdown.
"Last season we asked him to do a lot on the floor," said Leonard for his former Spurs, now Raptors, the teammate. "He is now able to get the footage he works on, he is convinced, he was hit last year, he was hurt, it always plays a role when you come to gaming pains."
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Leonard believes Green is his closest teammate from San Antonio. While uncertainty about Leonard's health and accessibility dragged over during the last season, there was discord among some of the Spurs veterans – including Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker – and Leonard. Green was able to go on line and support Leonard, even when others doubt his commitment.
Leonard and Green have wardrobes on the same side of the Raptors dressing room, separated only by Fred Van Vlee. As the two became accustomed to a new system and language offensive and defensive, Leonard often instinctively looked at Green in the early hours, confident that he would be on the same page.
"It's good to have someone in the same battles as you, and just have experience in the playoffs and have a winning background," said Leonard. "He was great. By focusing on those games where we are down or up to 10, he understands what we need to do and what type of thinking we need to win."
While Leonard's feelings about returning to San Antonio can be mixed and waiting for him is uncertain – he is expected to talk to the media on Thursday morning in San Antonio – Green returns without heavy feelings and only good memories.
"It was the organization that kept me," he said. "That's where I grew up in this league, I became a professional and I learned how to be one … spending so many years with Timmy, Tony, Manu and Pop, of course, I learned how to win, how to be successful and play in some very fun games, battles, big stages, it was a blessing everywhere. It was a great part of my career, a great stage and helped me to get to where I am today and I hope I can carry it to wherever I am. "
What is the multi-billion-dollar question faced by Raptors and Green, as it works towards completing a four-year agreement worth $ 40 million on a high note. As Green returns home with a new team, he is realistic: his trip after Tottenham can be just the beginning and he does not call all the shots.
"If [Leonard] remains maybe they want to get everyone back, if they leave, they may want to change, who knows? "said Green." We are both adults, we can make our own decisions for our own families. We can sit down and talk about it to see which page it is on and how it feels about something and how it feels, but at this point we do not think about it or we are not talking about it. We try to play a good basketball … and get all the healthy and winning games.
"I hope at the end of the year we can celebrate something outside the free agency."