Kawhi Leonard thanks Spurs and fans in open letter that leaves unanswered questions

In his first public comments since requesting a trade from the San Antonio Spurs and landing with the Toronto Raptors, Kawhi Leonard thanked the franchise with which he spent his first seven seasons, his teammates, coach Gregg Popovich and the team’s fans. He didn’t cite his reasons for wanting to leave.

An open letter from Kawhi Leonard

Here is the full transcription of his open letter:

San Antonio,

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

My family and I want to say THANK YOU to the entire Spurs organization and the people and fans of San Antonio.

THANK YOU to every one of my teammates I’ve played with over my seven years in the NBA.

THANK YOU Pop I’ll always be grateful for my growth under your guidance.

THANK YOU to the fans! There is not a more passionate or dedicated fan base than what I’ve witnessed in San Antonio.

Through all the ups and downs — I’m glad there were many more ups! — I’ll never forget what we have shared and accomplished together.

While I’m looking forward to the next chapter in my career, I’ll always remember the city and the people of San Antonio!

THANK YOU!

— Kawhi Leonard

The Kawhi Leonard-DeMar DeRozan trade

Leonard was traded along with Danny Green from the Spurs to the Raptors for DeMar DeRozan, Jakob Poeltl and a top-20 protected 2019 first-round draft pick. This came after a season that began with a puzzlingquadriceps injury devolved into a reported rift between Leonard and the organization over his medical treatment, a breakdown in communication between the two-time Defensive Player of the Year and his coach, teammates questioning the All-Star about his health, and finally a trade request.

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Kawhi Leonard through his career
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Kawhi Leonard through his career
San Diego State Aztecs' Kawhi Leonard (L) and Connecticut Huskies' Kemba Walker scramble for a loose ball during the second half of their NCAA West Regional college basketball game in Anaheim, California March 24, 2011. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)
Kawhi Leonard stands with NBA Commissioner David Stern after being selected by the Indiana Pacers as the 15th overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft in Newark, New Jersey June 23, 2011. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)
San Antonio Spurs' Kawhi Leonard (L) goes to the basket against Chicago Bulls' Joakim Noah (C) and Taj Gibson during the second half of their NBA basketball game in Chicago, February 11, 2013. REUTERS/Jim Young (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)
San Antonio Spurs' Tim Duncan (C), Kawhi Leonard (L) and Manu Ginobili celebrate after a basket against the Miami Heat in the first half during Game 3 of their NBA Finals basketball playoff in San Antonio, Texas June 11, 2013. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)
May 31, 2014; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard (2) attempts a shot against the Oklahoma City Thunder during the fourth quarter in game six of the Western Conference Finals of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 29, 2013; Orlando, FL, USA; San Antonio Spurs small forward Kawhi Leonard (2) is pressured by Orlando Magic shooting guard Arron Afflalo (4) during the first half at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 15, 2014; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard (2) dunks the ball during the second quarter against the Miami Heat in game five of the 2014 NBA Finals at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 21, 2014; Sacramento, CA, USA; San Antonio Spurs guard Tony Parker (9) and forward Kawhi Leonard (2) between plays against the Sacramento Kings during the first quarter at Sleep Train Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
May 29, 2014; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard (2) shoots over Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant (35) during the second half in game five of the Western Conference Finals of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports
Miami Heat's LeBron James (R) looks to pass around San Antonio Spurs' Kawhi Leonard during the first quarter in Game 2 of their NBA Finals basketball series in San Antonio, Texas, June 8, 2014. REUTERS/Mike Stone (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)
Jun 15, 2014; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard (2) celebrates in the locker room with the Finals MVP trophy after defeating the Miami Heat in game five of the 2014 NBA Finals at AT&T Center. The Spurs defeated the Heat 104-87 to win the NBA Finals. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 26, 2014; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard (2) poses for a picture during media day at Spurs Practice Facility. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 28, 2014; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs small forward Kawhi Leonard (2) gets his NBA championship ring from San Antonio Spurs owner Peter Holt before the game against the Dallas Mavericks at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports
April 22, 2015; Los Angeles, CA, USA; San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard (2) during the second half in game two of the first round of the NBA Playoffs. at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 13, 2016; Toronto, Ontario, Canada; Western Conference forward Kawhi Leonard of the San Antonio Spurs (2) looks on during practice for the NBA All Star game at Ricoh Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports / Reuters Picture Supplied by Action Images (TAGS: Sport Basketball NBA) *** Local Caption *** 2016-02-13T174655Z_1762526181_NOCID_RTRMADP_3_NBA-ALL-STAR-PRACTICE.JPG
Jan 12, 2017; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs small forward Kawhi Leonard (2) shoots the ball over Los Angeles Lakers small forward Luol Deng (9) during the first half at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 19, 2017; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs small forward Kawhi Leonard (2) talks with head coach Gregg Popovich during the second half against the Sacramento Kings at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 22, 2017; Memphis, TN, USA; San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard (2) reacts during the first half against the Memphis Grizzlies in game four of the first round of the 2017 NBA Playoffs at FedExForum. Mandatory Credit: Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports
May 14, 2017; Oakland, CA, USA; San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard (2) reacts after an injury during the third quarter in game one of the Western conference finals of the 2017 NBA Playoffs against the Golden State Warriors at Oracle Arena. The Warriors defeated the Spurs 113-111. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
May 20, 2017; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs small forward Kawhi Leonard (in suit) watches from the bench against the Golden State Warriors during the first half in game three of the Western conference finals of the NBA Playoffs at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 2, 2018; New York, NY, USA; San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard (2) reacts with San Antonio Spurs guard Tony Parker (9) against the New York Knicks during the second half at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports
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Why did Kawhi want out of San Antonio?

We’ve heard various sourced reports about why Leonard became so unhappy that he wanted out of the organization that shepherded him from disposable mid-first-round pick to 2014 Finals MVP and arguably the best two-way player in the game. Those included third-party theories about Leonard’s uncle and an agent with little NBA experience influencing his mindset — convincing him that team doctors didn’t have his best interests at heart, that Popovich’s “Kawhi and his group” comments were divisive, that Tony Parker saying his quad injury was “100 times worse” was a dig at his toughness, and that by staying in San Antonio he couldn’t get the shoe contract or superstar treatment he deserved.

But we never heard from Leonard directly. We have now, in the form of a letter thanking the Spurs and their fans for their support, but we’re still left to wonder why he wanted to leave that support system.

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Ben Rohrbach is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at rohrbach_ben@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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