But the generational phenom, who’s been the talk of the NBA for the past 48 hours, won’t come alone. The deal that sent DeMar DeRozan and Jakob Poeltl to Texas brings in Leonard and longtime Spur Danny Green, one of the longest-tenured names on San Antonio’s roster up until Wednesday’s blockbuster.
Green’s near-decade-long commitment to the Spurs is well-established, perhaps rivalling even DeRozan’s love of Toronto. Undrafted, cut twice, the veteran eventually found his way, becoming a Spurs staple. Just last month, Green passed up the chance to test free agency, exercising his $10-million option to stay in San Antonio. Now that’s simply a footnote on his career timeline, with a significant change upcoming.
But the 31-year-old appears to harbour no ill will towards the organization he fought to cling to.
“Change can be good,” Green said Thursday to the San Antonio Express-News‘ Jeff McDonald. “I’m not mad at all. I understand the business side of it. I understand what (the Spurs) had to do.”
For their part, it seems San Antonio wasn’t exactly thrilled to part with Green.
“It was tough, because he has come such a long way. You know, we cut him twice, and over the years he turned into Danny Green,” head coach Gregg Popovich said of the deal. “In trades, money has to match to a certain degree and that limits you to certain players that have to be included. In this case, that fell upon Danny.”
There’s bound to be a bit of tension for the San Antonio duo heading north together, with the relationship between Leonard and the Spurs — initially a promising match — descending into enough toxicity to force the organization to ship their all-world star out of town. And Green along with him, just to make the numbers work.
Green said he’s still not exactly clear on how it got to this point.
“It was an awkward situation,” he said. “His decision, I still don’t know exactly what happened.”
Regardless, he’s confident Leonard and the Raptors can find success together in this next chapter of both parties’ history.
“Despite the (Leonard) rumours, basketball is basketball,” Green told McDonald. “There’s going to be a magnifying glass on him now. He’s going to be expected to do great things. I’m going to do all I can to help.
“We have a chance to do something special up there.”