The Toronto Raptors are apparently pretty committed to keeping their new star power forward long-term.
The Raptors reportedly signed Jeremy Castleberry, former San Antonio Spurs assistant and close personal friend of Kawhi Leonard, to their own coaching staff. Leonard and Castleberry have reportedly been friends since Leonard was in high school and played basketball together in college at San Diego State.
Three years after Leonard was drafted, the Spurs hired Castleberry to work in their video and player development department, where he remained until being hired by the Raptors this week. Castleberry will likely remain in the player development department on Nick Nurse’s staff in Toronto.
While Castleberry doesn’t have any coaching experience, he did play basketball in college, where he started out as a walk-on. Castleberry was a guard off the bench for San Diego State.
Hiring Castleberry will drastically improve the Raptors’ chances at re-signing Leonard at the end of the season, as he could potentially sign a five-year, $190 million contract during the summer. Leonard reportedly prefers either the Los Angeles Lakers or the Los Angeles Clippers, but the Raptors apparently believe he could resign with them if the season goes well.
Leonard, along with shooting guard Danny Green, was traded to the Raptors last month after demanding to be moved from the Spurs. Leonard was reportedly unhappy with how the Spurs dealt with his leg injury last season and left San Antonio to rehab in New York, where he hid out from the Spurs staff and ignored calls when they tried to speak with him.
Despite Leonard’s handling of the situation, the Raptors seemed optimistic that their new star power forward will be the key to success in the team’s future. The Raptors haven’t yet been able to get past the Eastern Conference Finals but Leonard may be able to get them farther.
Featured Image via: Flickr/Shaheen Karolia