Kawhi Leonard finally breaks silence with Spurs goodbye

NBA trade news Jimmy Butler has been linked with the Lakers

Kawhi Leonard has spoken!

In this January 5 file photo, San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard handles a ball before a game against the Phoenix Suns.

Leonard didn't directly mention Toronto or the Raptors, but did say that he was "looking forward to the next chapter in my career". Spurs doctors cleared him to return, but Leonard's own team did not, and as Leonard sat, his relationship with the Spurs grew colder.

There was speculation that Leonard would not play for Toronto, as his preference was to head to Los Angeles and play for the Lakers.

On Thursday, Leonard broke his silence via a release and offered many thanks to the Spurs organization, his teammates, the fans, and Gregg Popovich for everything over the past seven seasons.

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DeRozan, a lifelong Raptor, was dealt to the Spurs in July as part of a package for the disgruntled Leonard. He will have the ability to do so when he becomes an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2019, unless the Raptors can sell him on a long-term future in Toronto. He was the Finals MVP in 2014 when the Spurs beat the Miami Heat in five games for the title.

"I have been going back and forth the last few weeks trying to figure out the right things to say, and it all comes down to two simple words: THANK YOU", the statement says.

THANK YOU to every one of my teammates I've played with over my seven years in the National Basketball Association. He just had a lot of people to thank for his time in San Antonio.

THANK YOU Pop I'll always be grateful for my growth under your guidance. There is not a more passionate or dedicated fan base than what I've witnessed in San Antonio.

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