<
>

How Kawhi Leonard went from Spurs superstar to the Raptors

play
Best of Kawhi's career (2:43)

With the Raptors finalizing a deal to acquire Kawhi Leonard, check out his best plays with the Spurs. (2:43)

Here's the timeline of events between the San Antonio Spurs and Kawhi Leonard that led to a blockbuster trade between the Spurs and Raptors:

August 2017: The Spurs grant Leonard permission to take over his entire rehabilitation process. After injuring his ankle in the 2017 Western Conference finals, the forward had been working with the team's doctors all summer up to this point to also address a quad injury that Leonard's camp believes started with a deep bruise in March 2016.

Sept. 30, 2017: San Antonio announces that Leonard will miss the preseason while rehabilitating from tendinopathy in his right thigh. The team also announces that there is no timetable for his return, although internally the team believes Leonard will be ready for the season opener.

Oct. 14, 2017: Spurs coach Gregg Popovich announces that Leonard will miss the season opener against the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Nov. 15, 2017: With Leonard yet to play his first game of the season, Popovich provides an update on the forward, saying, "He's going to be back sooner rather than later." Popovich then added, "Whatever nebulous [stuff that was], as soon as I said it, I thought, 'What the hell does that mean?'"

Dec. 8, 2017: League sources tell ESPN that Leonard has targeted a Dec. 12 matchup against the Dallas Mavericks for his return to the lineup.

Dec. 12, 2017: Leonard debuts against the Mavericks on a minutes restriction. The forward plays 16 minutes in a loss in Dallas, scoring 13 points on 6-of-12 shooting.

Dec. 15, 2017: Leonard hits the court again for San Antonio's next outing, a 124-109 loss to the Houston Rockets. In that game, Leonard plays 17 minutes and contributes 12 points. Before Leonard made his debut, the Spurs had won eight of their past nine outings.

For the remainder of December, Leonard alternates between playing and sitting, participating in four of the team's next eight games before the start of January. The team gradually ramps up Leonard's minutes to a season-high 28 minutes in a loss at Detroit on Dec. 30.

Jan. 2, 2018: Leonard plays in consecutive contests for just the second time, when he produces season highs in points (25), rebounds (8) and minutes (31).

Jan. 8, 2018: Popovich announces that Leonard will miss more time due to a "partial tear" in his left shoulder, which occurred during a Jan. 5 win over the Phoenix Suns. The Spurs hold out Leonard for a three-game road trip. "It's too bad because he was starting to get back into form a little bit after playing a couple of games," Popovich said.

Jan. 13, 2018: Leonard rejoins the Spurs for a 32-point win at home over the Denver Nuggets, scoring 19 points to go with 8 rebounds, 4 assists and 4 steals in 28 minutes. This outing would mark Leonard's last of the season. But after the game, Leonard said, "No complaints," when asked about the rehabilitated quadriceps, adding, "I need to string some games together. I talked to veteran guys who have been in this situation. They say to give yourself time -- two weeks, three weeks, maybe a month -- to get back to being yourself."

Jan. 17, 2018: The team announces it has shut down Leonard indefinitely so he can continue to rehab. San Antonio embarked on a three-game trip to Atlanta, Brooklyn and Toronto after the win over Denver, and the Spurs held out Leonard against the Hawks on Jan. 15. According to sources, the next day, Leonard met with doctors once the team arrived in New York to get another evaluation on the quadriceps.

On Jan. 17, Leonard called Popovich and explained to the coach he needed to sit out to rehab more, according to sources. That morning at a shootaround in Manhattan, the team made the announcement that it would sit Leonard. "It hasn't responded the way we wanted it to," Popovich said. "He's given it a shot. He's frustrated as hell. He wants to play badly. But if we're going to err, we're going to do it on the side of health and being wise."

Jan. 22, 2018: ESPN reports there is a rift between Leonard and the Spurs concerning his rehabilitation process. Leonard's uncle and adviser Dennis Robertson denies the report to the San Antonio Express-News, saying the sides are in lockstep.

Feb. 21, 2018: With Leonard having spent time away from the team in New York rehabbing the quadriceps, Popovich says he would "be surprised if he returns this season." He added: "We only have X number of games left in the season, and he's still not ready to go. If by some chance he is, it's gonna be pretty late into the season and it's going to be a pretty tough decision -- how late to bring somebody back. So that's why I'm just trying to be honest and logical. I'll be surprised if he gets back this year."

Feb. 26, 2018: ESPN reports that Leonard has returned to San Antonio to resume working out with the team with the hope of returning by late March. Leonard had spent the previous three weeks in New York, seeking further consultation on his right quadriceps injury.

play
0:58

Popovich heartbroken by Kawhi news but looking ahead

Gregg Popovich says it's horrible to be without Kawhi Leonard indefinitely but sheds some light on the situation by explaining how the team is preparing for the remainder of the season.

March 7, 2018: Leonard addresses the media for the first time since Jan. 13, saying, "For sure," when asked if he wanted to finish his career with the Spurs and denies reports of a rift between him and the organization. "Everything was done as a group," he said. "I don't feel like nothing was friction."

March 17, 2018: ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reports the Spurs held a players-only meeting to implore Leonard to return to the lineup and help the team in its push for the playoffs. Spurs guard Tony Parker, a four-time NBA champion, quarterbacked the meeting.

March 21, 2018: Leonard makes an appearance at the AT&T Center for the team's annual picture but leaves the building minutes later when the Spurs hold a shootaround before a matchup that night against the Washington Wizards. Veteran Manu Ginobili said the team needed to operate as if "he is not coming back."

March 23, 2018: Parker is asked about his own rehab from a career-threatening quadriceps injury suffered last May and mentions his injury was "the same kind of injury as [Leonard's], but mine was 100 times worse." Parker's comment infuriated Leonard and his camp, according to sources, leading to more distrust in the organization.

March 26, 2018: Leonard returns to New York to continue rehabilitation under the supervision of outside medical personnel.

April 1, 2018: Popovich further infuriates Leonard's camp when he's asked about the forward's status. Popovich said that he and the team hadn't heard from Leonard since his return to New York the week prior for more rehab work. "I don't know when he and his group are going to feel like they are ready to go. If I knew, he'd be here. When he and his group feel ready, then he'll be ready."

April 14, 2018: The Spurs announce that Leonard will miss the team's playoff opener against the Warriors.

play
1:09

Kawhi's plan to get back: 'Just play'

Kawhi Leonard describes his plan to return to the court this season while reiterating that he would like to finish his career as a Spur.

April 15, 2018: Yahoo! Sports reports Leonard is expected to miss the entire postseason.

May 1, 2018: Leonard and Robertson return to San Antonio after spending almost six weeks in New York rehabbing.

June 15, 2018: Sources tell multiple outlets that Leonard wants to be traded from San Antonio. Wojnarowski reports that the Los Angeles Lakers are Leonard's preferred destination.

June 17, 2018: Popovich travels to Southern California and meets with Leonard ahead of the draft, according to Wojnarowski and Ramona Shelburne. Popovich had been working for weeks to set up a meeting with the star forward to discuss the issues that had fractured the club's relationship with Leonard.

June 21, 2018: The Lakers contacted the Spurs ahead of the draft to discuss a potential trade but immediately felt San Antonio had no intention of engaging in any dialogue, Shelburne reports. "They basically shut the door on us," a Lakers source told Shelburne.

June 22, 2018: After the NBA draft, Spurs GM R.C. Buford says the team will "explore all of our options" regarding Leonard, but he points out "the first one would be to do what we can to keep Kawhi as part of our group."

June 27, 2018: Wojnarowski, Shelburne and Brian Windhorst report the Lakers are under mounting pressure to execute a trade with the Spurs for Leonard before LeBron James is faced with deciding whether to enter free agency.

The Lakers re-engaged the Spurs later that night in pursuit of a trade, believing that a deal for Leonard would likely fetch a free-agent commitment from James.

June 28, 2018: San Antonio becomes engaged with multiple teams in trade talks regarding Leonard, including the Lakers and the Celtics, according to a report by Wojnarowski. The Spurs express openness to making a deal, despite their desire to mend the relationship with Leonard, but the club wants a major return of assets in return for the forward.

July 7, 2018: Tony Parker agrees to join the Charlotte Hornets, ending his 17-year career in San Antonio. "I have no problem with Kawhi Leonard. We never had an argument," Parker told The Undefeated.

The next day, the Spurs officially decided not to match an offer sheet for restricted free agent Kyle Anderson, letting him join the Memphis Grizzlies.

July 16, 2018: Leonard officially becomes eligible for a five-year, $221 million super max extension from the Spurs, though no deal materializes.

July 17, 2018: While the bidding war between the Celtics, Sixers and Lakers never materialized, the Spurs continue to have talks with multiple teams -- including the Raptors -- as Leonard considers participating in the USA Basketball national team's minicamp, according to a report by Wojnarowski and Shelburne.

July 18, 2018: The Raptors and Spurs agree to a deal involving Leonard and DeMar DeRozan, according to a report by Wojnarowski. Toronto and San Antonio have been talking about the trade for two weeks, and several incarnations of packages have been discussed.