One of the most shocking – if not the most shocking – moves during last month’s free-agent signing spree came a few days after several top names signed their deals, as Kawhi Leonard chose to leave the Toronto Raptors to sign a three-year contract with the Los Angeles Clippers. This came just one year after the Raptors acquired him via trade from the San Antonio Spurs and mere weeks after Leonard led the team to their first-ever NBA championship in a six-game NBA Finals series against the Golden State Warriors.
While Leonard’s decision to sign with the Clippers proved to be surprising for a lot of NBA fans and league experts, his former teammate, Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry, recently admitted to Sports Illustrated that he wasn’t that surprised or affected when the 2019 NBA Finals MVP texted him to let him know that he would be joining the Clippers. As Lowry further recalled, he then sent a reply to Leonard to let him know that he was happy for him.
According to Sports Illustrated, the two now-former teammates communicated constantly with each other in the lead-up to this year’s free agency period. However, the topic of basketball never came up between Leonard and Lowry, as the 33-year-old point guard told the publication that he has “never been a recruiter” and likely never will be.
"I would love to do an extension.” Kyle Lowry wants to stay in Toronto for the long haul https://t.co/93qPi8w8Cx— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) August 6, 2019
Lowry’s recollection of how he dealt with Leonard’s decision to leave the Raptors fell in line with statements he had previously made to Sports Illustrated, including one in December where he told the magazine that he wasn’t planning to convince his then-teammate to stick around.
Likewise, the five-time All-Star said in June that much as he’d like to, he’s not the type of person who would force a friend to stay in Toronto and keep playing for the Raptors.
“I always say this in this business, you don’t have that much choice in happiness sometimes. You have to make yourself happy. You have to be able to wake up every day and be happy with what your decision in life is, and that’s why I never recruit. I never say like, ‘Listen, yeah, I want you back. Come on back. Let’s continue to be teammates. But if you choose to do something different, I’ll support you.'”
Given that Kawhi Leonard’s move to the Los Angeles Clippers would allow him to finally play for one of his two hometown teams, Kyle Lowry reiterated to Sports Illustrated that this decision didn’t come as a shock, and that he’s happy for the two-time Defensive Player of the Year, especially since he helped the Raptors become first-time NBA champions earlier this summer. While Lowry expressed some concern about the fact that Toronto will be the first team to enter a new season with their Finals MVP playing elsewhere, he said that he’s “confident” about the Raptors’ chances of successfully defending their title in the coming postseason.