Kawhi Leonard finally breaks silence with Spurs goodbye

NBA trade news Jimmy Butler has been linked with the Lakers

New Toronto Raptors forward Kawhi Leonard broke down his farewell to San Antonio and the Spurs into two words: "Thank you".

Kawhi Leonard has spoken! Leonard, who missed almost all of the 2017 season with the Spurs with a mysterious quad injury that plagued him throughout the year, was reportedly asking to be traded by the Spurs behind closed doors.

Kawhi Leonard's first public statement since being part of a blockbuster National Basketball Association trade last month is full of thanks but short on explanations.

He was traded to the Raptors in July, along with Danny Green, in exchange for DeMar DeRozan, Jakob Poeltl and a protected 2019 first-round pick.

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One part of Leonard's statement includes a thank you to Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, reading "THANK YOU Pop I'll always be grateful for my growth under your guidance". Spurs doctors cleared him to return, but Leonard's own team did not, and as Leonard sat, his relationship with the Spurs grew colder. Leonard, who was craving Los Angeles, reportedly was not happy to be shipped out of the country, and his letter did not address the Raptors. Multiple reports indicated that Popovich and Leonard met in June but were apparently unable to fix the relationship between the club and the two-time defensive player of the year. He was the Finals MVP in 2014 when the Spurs beat the Miami Heat in five games for the title.

"The best part about San Antonio, they do right by you", the Spurs forward said, according to Dom Amore of the Hartford Courant.

"Through all the ups and downs - I'm glad there were many more ups!" - I'll never forget what we shared and accomplished together.

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