Kawhi Leonard Will Not Play vs. Lakers Because of Foot InjuryNovember 5, 2018
Toronto Raptors star Kawhi Leonard will not play Sunday's game against the Los Angeles Lakers because of a sore left foot.
Tim Bontemps of ESPN.com reported the news, noting Leonard jammed the foot during Friday's win over the Phoenix Suns.
The 27-year-old is, of course, coming off an injury-plagued season that ultimately led to his departure from the San Antonio Spurs. He missed all but nine of 87 games (regular season and postseason combined) a season ago due to a quad injury.
Early on this season, the organization made it clear that it would ease the former NBA Finals MVP back into the grind of an 82-game season.
"The plan is for a little while here to not let him play [both halves of] the back-to-backs," head coach Nick Nurse said in November, per Bontemps. "I don't think we've decided how long that's gonna be yet. We're going game by game."
Leonard has regained his All-Star form this season, averaging 26.1 points, 7.6 rebounds and 3.4 assists in seven games during his first year in Toronto. As a result, the new-look Raptors have gone 8-1, good for a tie for first place in the Eastern Conference.
Given the way the forward's tenure in San Antonio came to an end, Toronto needs to handle any Leonard injury with caution. Any misstep in the process could risk fracturing the relationship with the impending free agent.
The Raptors should be able to withstand Leonard's injury during the regular season thanks to a talented lineup that features the likes of Kyle Lowry, Danny Green and Serge Ibaka. However, they will need others to fill the hole created by the two-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year's absence. Both Norman Powell and OG Anunoby should see increased minutes in the meantime.
Regardless of who fills in, though, Toronto will have a tough time of contending for a championship without a healthy Leonard.