Kawhi Leonard was as advertised, a man of few words dedicated to his profession above all else.
“I’m a fun guy,” the Toronto Raptors forward said at a much-anticipated news conference at the Scotiabank Arena on Monday morning.
“Obviously I love the game of basketball.”
Leonard was appearing in public for the first time since being acquired along with Danny Green for DeMar DeRozan, Jakob Poeltl and a first round draft pick in July.
He was much the same as he’s been throughout his time in the NBA, all with the San Antonio Spurs: Quiet, serious and focused on basketball.
“He’s a fun guy (when) you get to know him,” Green said. “You have to be around him, he’s different in the locker room than he is with you guys but his main focus is basketball; he loves it. He puts the hours in.
“We’re all expecting big things from him, we’re expecting big things from everybody on this team, myself included.”
Limited to just nine games in the 2017-18 season by a leg injury, Leonard said he’s fully healthy and ready to open training camp Tuesday in Burnaby, B.C.
“Right now I’m feeling great, ready to play basketball,” Leonard said. “Throughout the summer worked on my body, took it step by step to get ready.”
Leonard can become an unrestricted NBA free agent next July, giving rise to concerns he’ll just be a one-year rental for the Raptors. Unsurprisingly, he did nothing to address his longer term future.
“I look at it as a day-to-day process,” he said. “My focus is on this year, this role that I have and us trying to get to a championship.
“If you look into the future, you’ll trip over the present.”
MORE TO COME
Doug Smith is a sports reporter based in Toronto. Follow him on Twitter: @smithraps