Kawhi Leonard speaks for first time since trade to Raptors

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Just because Kawhi Leonard wanted out of San Antonio doesn't mean he isn't grateful for his time as a Spur.

Leonard's statement wasn't particularly long, but it was direct.

In a letter submitted to the San Antonio Express-News, Leonard thanked Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, his teammates, and the "passionate" Spurs fan base.

Leonard has one year and a player option left on his current deal and is set to make $20.1 million in 2018-19.

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He also thanked the city of San Antonio, his former teammates and the fans.

Though some are more heartfelt and less robotic, thank-you letters by traded players rarely say much significantly.

"Through all the ups and downs - I'm glad there were many more ups!"

Leonard didn't directly mention Toronto or the Raptors, but did say that he was "looking forward to the next chapter in my career". "I'll never forget what we have shared and accomplished together", Leonard wrote.

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In a trade that sent shockwaves throughout the National Basketball Association, the Raptors acquired Leonard and three-point shooter Danny Green last month, while San Antonio received all-star DeMar DeRozan, backup centre Jakob Poeltl and a protected 2019 first-round pick.

Rudy Gay re-signed with the San Antonio Spurs this offseason after having a successful return from a torn Achilles.

Leonard demanded a trade this summer away from the only team he has known, after seven mostly brilliant seasons in San Antonio. The diagnosis and treatment of that injury seemed to drive a wedge between Leonard and the Spurs organization that led him to suggest a change of teams would be appropriate. He was the Finals MVP in 2014 when the Spurs beat the Miami Heat in five games for the title.

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