If there is one person who really understands what Kawhi Leonard feels, it is Isaiah Thomas. During the 2016-17 NBA season, the 30-year-old point guard battled with a hip injury. Instead of resting to prevent himself from aggravating his injury, Thomas still decided to play to help the Boston Celtics reach the Eastern Conference finals.
His decision proved to be too costly as he ended up being dumped by the Celtics and was unable to secure a huge money deal in the recent free agency. However, Isaiah Thomas didn't have any regret, saying that playing basketball helped him cope with his sister's death.
Meanwhile, Kawhi Leonard did the opposite thing. He only played nine games last season due to a quadriceps injury. Despite being medically cleared to play, Leonard decided to remain on the sideline, which angered some people in the San Antonio Spurs' organization. In an appearance on CBS Sports Radio, Isaiah Thomas praised Leonard for sitting out last season and said that the All-Star forward learned from his story.
"Kawhi Leonard, what he did is the right thing to do. He learned from my story. Everybody can hate or do whatever they say about Kawhi Leonard, but at the end of the day, he's looking after himself. These teams, all they're going to do is look out for themselves. When a player does it, everybody's tripping out. It is what it is. At the same time, I'm still blessed to be in the situation I'm in. I'm blessed to be in the NBA. Once I do get that opportunity again, they won't be able to deny it after that."Unlike Thomas, who only secured a one-year, veteran minimum deal with the Denver Nuggets this summer, Kawhi Leonard is set to receive a maximum contract when he becomes an unrestricted free agent next offseason. Despite suffering from injury, Leonard is still considered as one of the best two-way players in the league.
Though most people believe he's only a one-year rental, the Toronto Raptors took the huge risk of trading for him, believing he could help the team reach a higher level next season. In the past months, rumors and speculations continue to swirl that Kawhi Leonard is planning to join LeBron James on the Los Angeles Lakers next summer. However, Raptors General Manager Masai Ujiri is very confident that they can convince Leonard to re-sign, like the Oklahoma City Thunder did with Paul George.