Green says Castleberry will make Leonard 'feel more comfortable at home'

Ashish Mathur

The Toronto Raptors hired San Antonio Spurs assistant video coordinator Jeremy Castleberry as a player development coach last week and Danny Green says he was not shocked by the move.

Castleberry earned his degree at San Diego State University and is very close with Raptors star Kawhi Leonard. Castleberry played basketball with Leonard in high school and in college.

“I’m not shocked by it," Green said on the latest episode of his Inside the Green Room podcast. "I’d be more shocked if he actually stayed in San Antonio because [Leonard’s] the reason why he came into the Spurs organization, but he’s earned his keep. He interned, he became the video room guy, the ball boy, all that stuff you need to do. Learned the game, figured out what he needed to do and he’s been great ever since.

"Jeremy is my guy, man. Everybody loves Jeremy. He’s great at what he does, he’s amazing and, obviously, he’s gonna make Kawhi feel more comfortable at home. It’s good to have him on board. Hopefully it helps Kawhi feel more comfortable at home and keeps him in the city that they want to keep him here Obviously they traded for him for a reason. They think they can sell him."

Leonard will become an unrestricted free-agent in 2019. The Raptors have roughly 12 months to convince Leonard to re-sign with them. Toronto can offer Leonard almost $50 million more than any other team in 2019, including a fifth year.

The common theory behind bringing in Castleberry is he will help Leonard get better acclimated in Toronto and may help him open up to the idea of remaining with the Raptors.

Leonard reportedly wants to play in Los Angeles with either the Lakers or Clippers. Raptors president Masai Ujiri was made aware of Leonard’s reluctance to play for the team before pulling the trigger on the trade with the Spurs.

The Raptors believe they can reach the NBA Finals with Leonard in the mix. Toronto had the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference last season and is essentially replacing DeMar DeRozan with Leonard.