Nurse says you “can’t blame” the guy for wanting to go home, and joining the LA Clippers.
The defending NBA champs will shift their focus on re-tooling: “Now we got to go kick his ass.”
“I think you can’t blame a guy for wanting to go home,” Nurse said Saturday night at the Las Vegas Summer League. “That’s what he texted me today. ‘I’m going home.’ And I just said, ‘You’ve changed a lot of lives, man, by what you’ve accomplished in Toronto. Mine especially.’ And thanked him for what he did, and we’ll look to the future, and we’ll look to [win a title] again.”
Nurse acknowledged that Leonard’s departure left some understandable sadness within the organization.
“It’s certainly disappointing,” Nurse said. “I think, first of all, he’s a great person. He was unbelievably fun to coach, just locked in and loaded and ready to go. People would ask me, ‘What was it like coaching him?’ And I always said the best thing was I got to stand there on the courtside and watch this guy go to work. That was something that I’ll never forget. Now we got to go kick his ass.”
Nurse also brushed off the suggestion that tampering by the Clippers might have played a part in Leonard’s decision. He said the Raptors are not pursuing a tampering claim with the league office.
“From my standpoint, I didn’t sense it or don’t have any of those feelings at all,” Nurse said. “I again state that he’s going home, and that’s a heart draw for any of us. If you guys were all playing somewhere else and got a chance to go back and make the most money you make in your hometown … are you going to go home and do it? Again, we’ll wish him well and the best of luck until we have to go against him.”