Kawhi Leonard Has 'A Fire Inside of Him' After Raptors Trade, Masai Ujiri Says

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistSeptember 19, 2018

FILE - In this Jan. 13, 2018, file photo, San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard (2) moves the ball up court during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Denver Nuggets, in San Antonio. General manager R.C. Buford acknowledges star forward Kawhi Leonard is unhappy with the Spurs. He remains optimistic the relationship can be salvaged. (AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)
Eric Gay/Associated Press

Toronto Raptors forward Kawhi Leonard is apparently ready to prove himself to his new team after being traded from the San Antonio Spurs this offseason.

"He is determined and seems in the right frame of mind," Raptors general manager Masai Ujiri said Tuesday, per the Associated Press (via ESPN.com). "You will be hearing from him shortly. I think there is a fire inside of him, and we are all excited about that."

Leonard has always been known for his quiet demeanor, and questions about his motivation arose last season as he was limited to just nine games.

However, Ujiri clearly likes what he has seen from the 27-year-old since the July trade.

"He is as engaging as he would want to be, and he's very interesting," the GM said. "There is no maintenance with him. There are no tons of people around him. His [focus] is on basketball, which is what you want. He is a basketball junkie."

When healthy, Leonard is one of the top all-around players in basketball. He is a two-time Defensive Player of the Year and twice finished in the top three of MVP voting.

The even better news is that he reportedly "looks remarkable" in workouts, per Ashish Mathur of Amico Hoops.

If he is 100 percent physically and emotionally as it's been stated, Leonard could be an impact player for the upcoming season.


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