With the big picture in mind, the Toronto Raptors intend to rest Kawhi Leonard during parts of back-to-backs to for the foreseeable future.
During the offseason, the Toronto Raptors acquired a player in Kawhi Leonard that might just be able to lead them over the hump and get them to the NBA Finals. But in order to do that, Leonard will need to be 100 percent healthy when the playoffs arrive in April.
So far, the Raptors wisely aren’t taking any unnecessary risks with Leonard early in the season. Until they feel he is fully healthy, they are going to continue to rest him during at least one game of future back-to-backs, according to ESPN.com, and they aren’t sure how long that will go on for.
Fortunately for them, Toronto is off to an excellent 7-1 start to the 2018-19 season, and they can afford to do this right now with plenty of season still ahead of them.
Leonard, a former Finals MVP with the San Antonio Spurs, is on board with the plan. He wants to make sure he’s ready to go for the postseason so he can help the Raptors chase a ring.
“I just wanted to get healthy,” Leonard said. “I feel healthy now, and they just don’t want to rush into things. I don’t either. It’s a long season, so we’re thinking about the long road.”
After all, the last thing Leonard or the Raptors want is a repeat of what he went through last season. While with the Spurs, Leonard was forced to miss all but nine games due to tendinopathy in his right quadriceps. It ultimately led to a divorce between him and the Spurs, and eventually his trade to Toronto.
As Leonard said, he feels good. However, since it is still so early in the season and the Raptors have been playing well thus far, it is smart for them to not risk anything like that happening again.
Leonard will be a free agent after the season, and has expressed his desire to play in his hometown of Los Angeles. As this season might be their only chance to make a run at the Finals with Leonard, the Raptors don’t want to take any chances on wasting the opportunity.