Marc Gasol and Kawhi Leonard were teammates for just four months, but they have a bond that evidently extends beyond the Toronto Raptors winning their first title.
Gasol was acquired in a February trade with the Memphis Grizzlies, and the 2013 Defensive Player of the Year paid dividends for the Raptors, providing outstanding rim protection and passing en route to a six-game victory over the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals.
Leonard, as everyone knows, won Finals MVP, created a free-agency frenzy, before joining his hometown Los Angeles Clippers, and Gasol can’t fault the Board Man for heading to Hollywood.
“You can’t blame the guy for wanting to go home. If you tell me I can go (to) Barcelona and make an absurd amount of money and play in the NBA … I understand completely and respect it and wish him the best,” Gasol said to Marc Stein of The New York Times.
A completely fair and reasonable response from Gasol, even if Raptors fans wish with everything they have that Leonard would re-consider. What’s done is done, however, and Gasol opted in for his $25.6 player option ahead of free agency, where he’ll play a central role in the Raptors’ attempt to defend the Larry O’Brien Trophy.
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