The Toronto Raptors want to make their newly acquired All-Star forward, Kawhi Leonard, feel at home with them. In a move to perhaps help that cause along, the Raptors are set to add a familiar face from Leonard's past to their coaching staff.
According to ESPN's Ian Bagley, the Raptors are hiring Jeremy Castleberry to coach Nick Nurse's staff soon. Castleberry is a current staffer with the San Antonio Spurs -- the team the Raptors acquired Leonard from roughly a month ago in a blockbuster trade involving the Raptors' DeMar DeRozan. Here's more from Bagley on the move and why the Raptors are doing it:
Castleberry has worked with Leonard as a Spurs staffer and played with Leonard in high school and at San Diego State, where he was a walk-on.
Leonard can test free agency in the summer of 2019, so Raptors president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri took significant risk with the transaction. Ujiri made the deal with a determination that he can convince Leonard to re-sign with the Raptors next summer in free agency, sources told ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.
Hiring Castleberry certainly won't hurt Toronto's chances of keeping Leonard.
The Raptors would be able to offer Leonard a five-year, $190 million contract next summer. If Leonard leaves the Raptors, he could sign a four-year, $141 million deal with a team with the available salary-cap space.
So far, Leonard's preference is to sign in Los Angeles with either the Lakers or Clippers next season, sources told Wojnarowski.
On July 18, the Raptors traded star guard DeRozan to the San Antonio Spurs for Leonard, a former two-time Kia Defensive Player of the Year and Finals MVP winner. Spurs veteran Danny Green is went to the Raptors with Leonard while the Spurs get DeRozan, center Jakob Poeltl and a protected first-round pick in 2019.