In the wake of Cavi Leonard's decision to return to his hometown of Los Angeles and join the Clippers for at least a couple of seasons – though you never know these days – the blockbuster transaction was covered from seemingly every corner. Of all the ways in which the deal was analyzed, however, no one can speak more about the impact of Leonard's decision than the Raptors teammates who tied up with him during the historic race champion.
Mark Gasol gives two cents to Leonard's decision in conversation with Mark Stein The New York Times ahead of an exhibition match of the Spanish national team against Team USA at the Honda Center on Friday. Judging by his comments, Gasol has no hard feelings for the former Raptor superstar.
"You can't blame the guy for wanting to go home," Gasol said Stein said. "If you tell me, I can go to Barcelona and make an absurd amount of money and play in the NBA … I fully understand and respect and wish the best."
Understanding Gasol's nature echoes the sentiments some other Raptors have expressed about Leonard's decision this summer, including Norman Powell and Kyle Lori. Head coach Nick Nurse addressed the issue, also providing an almost identical quote to Gasol as he did so.
Leonard officially signed a three-year, $ 103 million contract with the Clippers on July 10, just weeks after winning the title. The third year of the contract includes a player option, which means Leonard may withdraw from the contract after the 2020-21 season.
The Raptors will get their championship rings and raise their championship banner on October 22 before their home match against the New Orleans Pelicans. Leonard will have to wait a few months to get his ring, however, with the Clippers visiting the Raptors at the Scottybank Arena on December 11.