Gotta See It: Kawhi trains with LeBron, Durant, Raptors coaches

Kawhi Leonard had 31 points and 10 rebounds, and the San Antonio Spurs returned from an eight-game road trip to beat the Indiana Pacers 100-99 on Wednesday night (Eric Gay/AP)

On an otherwise uneventful Wednesday in the basketball world, a workout took place between an impressive collection of talent — and a healthy contingent of Toronto Raptors.

The photo shows four active NBAers you may have heard of — Lakers superstar LeBron James, Raptors superstar Kawhi Leonard, Warriors superstar Kevin Durant, and… Cavaliers sophomore Cedi Osman (it pays to know the King) — following an on-court training session at UCLA, a popular off-season destination for players looking to work on their game in the summer.

The picture is notable for a few reasons.

One, it’s a scary collection of talent that features arguably the three top forwards in basketball. The players share 15 Finals appearances, six NBA championships, and six Finals MVPs among themselves.

Two, look at how Leonard’s ginormous hands swallow the basketball.

Three, there is an abundance of Raptors coaching staff members among the group.

On the far right is Jeremy Castleberry, the Raptors’ newest hire as player developmental coach. Castleberry is a long-time close friend and former high school, AAU, and collegiate teammate of Leonard. The Raptors brought him on board for the upcoming season in the hopes of helping to acclimatize Leonard to his new environment, with a long-term hope that establishing a comfortable setting for the 27 year-old superstar could help give the Raptors an edge next summer when they’ll have to try to convince him to re-sign in Toronto.

To the left of Castleberry is Phil Handy, one of the Raptors new assistant coaches, who was most recently a coach with the Cleveland Cavaliers, where he worked closely with current Raptor C.J. Miles during his tenure there. Beside Handy is Raptors video coordinator John Corbacio.

The Raptors staff is getting valuable on-court time with Leonard this off-season that, like the Castleberry hiring, could help smooth his transition to his new team, something the organization is taking great lengths to ensure.

And although he cleared his physical — a requirement in order for the trade with San Antonio to be finalized — questions linger about Leonard’s health status and whether or not he’ll be good to go for the start of the 2018-19 NBA season. Perhaps the fact that he’s able to train with the likes of LeBron and Durant would help suggest that Leonard is poised to be at 100 per cent, or close to it, by opening night on Oct. 17th.


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