Nurse says his 1st meeting with Kawhi 'could have gone forever'
You only get one chance to make a first impression, and it sounds like new Toronto Raptors head coach Nick Nurse and the franchise's monumental offseason acquisition got their relationship off to a positive start.
As Nurse prepared to sit down with Kawhi Leonard last weekend, he headed into the meeting expecting the All-Star forward to live up to his reputation for being reticent.
"I sat down and said, 'Do you have any questions?' And he started firing them," said Nurse, according to the Toronto Star's Dave Feschuk. "And it just led us to a really easygoing (conversation). Not what I was expecting.
"Very smart. Very intelligent. Very engaging. Really enjoyed it. ... We could have gone forever. (Raptors management) kept knocking on the door and I was like, 'A couple more minutes.' Because we were really into it. It was fun to listen to his take."
Shortly after news of the trade broke, it was reported that Leonard "has no desire" to play with Toronto, although sources later described his first contact with the organization as "positive" and "forward-looking."
Nurse mentioned that Leonard - who has yet to speak publicly since the trade - "lit up like a Christmas tree" when the two started talking Xs and Os, with the 27-year-old eager to hear how his coach would utilize him in the offense.
"He asked me, 'How are you going to use me? Where are you going to get me the ball? What do you see?' And I told him, 'Listen. To me, you can do pretty much everything. You can post. You can drive. You can handle it up the floor. You can play screen and roll. You can come off pindowns.' I said, 'Did I miss anything?' He's like, 'No, that's about it.' I said, 'You'll probably be doing all that stuff.'"
Leonard's relationship with the San Antonio Spurs deteriorated, largely due to an apparent misdiagnosis of his ailing quad, and after asking to be traded, he was shipped out of town in a multi-player deal for DeMar DeRozan.
He passed his physical with the Raptors, and is expected to be ready to go for training camp after missing all but nine games in 2017-18.