Danny Green on Kawhi Leonard’s silence, expectations for Raptors

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Danny Green, right, and Kawhi Leonard (Eric Gay/AP)

*Editor’s Note: This article was updated after Leonard released a statement Thursday morning


It’s been three weeks since the Toronto Raptors pulled the trigger on the blockbuster that sent DeMar DeRozan, Jakob Poeltl and a draft pick to the San Antonio Spurs in exchange for Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green.

Over those three weeks, there have not been any public comments from Leonard regarding the move to Toronto. The only evidence that the superstar had even travelled to Ontario’s capital came in the form of a photo with team president Masai Ujiri and general manager Bobby Webster in which Leonard was apparently only 38 per cent happy.

Leonard released a statement Thursday morning thanking the Spurs organization and the loyal San Antonio fans, but did not specifically say anything about the Raptors.

On his latest episode of the Inside the Green Room podcast, Green addresses Leonard’s silence following the trade, what to expect from the Raptors this season, working out with his younger teammates and picking Steve Nash’s brain.

On Leonard’s silence after trade to Toronto

“I don’t think he messed up. There’s advantages and disadvantages; pros and cons. A lot of times if things are bad and you have nothing good to say or you don’t know what to say it’s better probably not to speak at all. But for him, I don’t think he messed up but he kind of left us, his teammates, to speak for him because he didn’t say anything. Could he have handled it differently? I wouldn’t say better but he could have probably made a statement or said something. It seems like everyone else is getting sources around him, which aren’t the true story and it kind of leaves everyone else to answer for him — the organization, the players, his teammates — when we really don’t know.

“He could have made it easier for everybody else if we would have said something but regardless we know that’s him. That’s his personality, we didn’t ask him to change, I didn’t expect anything different from him. He’s still maturing, he’s still a young adult, he’s still learning the game, still learning media. This will be something moving forward that he’ll adapt, adjust and learn from and make him a better person, player and media guy off the court.”

On realistic expectations for Raptors in 2018-19

“We know the Warriors are the champions, they’re the team to beat, they’re the best team in the world. For us, we want to be as good as we were last year — the team they had last year, I wasn’t there. Try to win at least 55, 60 games and be in the Eastern Conference Finals at least. We expect to at least get back to the point we were last year and the goal is to go further, get to the Finals and then see what happens from there.

“You never know who’s playing who, who’s healthy and who’s not. That is a big factor when it comes to the playoffs, the team that’s playing the best and is healthiest. There’s no guarantee Golden State would be healthiest or playing the best at that time. If we can make it to the Finals, we have a good shot at doing something great if we stay healthy.”

On working out with Raptors in Los Angeles and learning from Steve Nash

“We go out there as a team, the team does a great job of looking after us. We have sessions in the morning where we have a chance to get a lot of shooting up, skill work. Mostly the young guys are there, OG Anunoby, Fred VanVleet, Delon Wright, Norman Powell, Lorenzo Brown, Malachi Richardson. Most of the young guys, they were all there, they’re all attentive and we had some other guys come aboard and try to get some work in, a lot of skill work, a lot of shooting, stretching, getting the body right and then they play in the afternoon. It’s kind of like two-a-days but everything’s done by around four o’clock.

“Steve Nash came to dinner, he also talked to young guys, they got to ask him questions. Steve’s great with young guys, telling them about his routine.

“Fans love guys like Steve, Steph Curry, VanVleet because they’re more relatable to your average guy. They’re not big, tall guys, they’re just the ultimate competitors. They’re very high-IQ guys, they use their advantage in that way. They’re very skilled and they work on their skill. It’s not like you have to be super athletic or super fast, strong. Those guys just worked really hard and studied the game and they did all those things the right way.”

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