Kawhi Leonard‘s chief career and business strategist, Dennis Robertson (better known as “Uncle Dennis” in League circles), says the superstar is “not thinking about free agency” heading into the NBA Finals.
Leonard and the Toronto Raptors, instead, are focused on the “championship opportunity in front of us.”
Robertson also sheds light, for the first time, on the “lack of trust” between Leonard and the Spurs’ braintrust that ultimately led to his exit from San Antonio last summer.
Per Yahoo Sports:
“We’re a humble family and we’re just enjoying the moment,” Robertson told Yahoo Sports on Sunday afternoon via phone interview. “Most people would say it’s vindication, but I’m not sure about that. But it was nice that we kept our mouths shut and just let everything play out. And for Kawhi, to take all the negative press he received and to focus on taking the East and to taking each series game by game, it’s a big deal. Making it to the Finals is a big deal. This is a team that has never been to the Finals and we’re happy about that. It feels good with what we went through last year. We have to be happy. He said it best with all the work he’s put into his craft: He’s ready for this moment. What he accomplished was amazing. That’s what stars do. How he’s handled everything on and off the court is well deserved. It was nice to see him fight through all the adversity and he’s earned every minute of this.”
Leonard and Robertson have never openly addressed why the three-time All-Star requested a trade from the Spurs last offseason. For much of the 2017-18 season, Leonard battled a right quad injury and it limited him to just nine games.
“I think it just became a lack of trust,” Robertson told Yahoo Sports. “They didn’t believe Kawhi couldn’t play and that caused a lack of trust in us and then us not believing in them. Any time a player says he’s not capable of playing, you should believe him. Why would Kawhi just stop playing all of a sudden? He’s a competitor. Sometimes you get these team doctors telling you what you can and cannot do, and Kawhi was just in too much pain to get out there. This was a serious issue. They didn’t believe him, and after that, the relationship couldn’t recover and we decided we had to move on.”
Much of the NBA Finals chatter will be about what takes place after the series because the matchup features three of the top pending free agents in Leonard, Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson.
“I can’t get into other free agents and other teams, but for Kawhi, he’s going to take it one day and one game at a time,” Robertson told Yahoo Sports. “We have a championship opportunity in front of us. We’re not thinking about free agency; it’s the Warriors [right now]. Once we get through the season, we’ll turn our attention to free agency. But we’re just having fun right now. This has been a great year.”