Toronto Raptors

Raptors' All-Star Kawhi Leonard wants to be 'healthy...once the playoffs' start


Kawhi Leonard addressed the concerns about whether or not he was injured on Friday ahead of the Toronto Raptors' game against the Houston Rockets.

Leonard who had been sitting on back-to-backs as part of what the team has called "load management" just went through a stretch where he missed four straight games. Prior to that, he had not missed more than two straight games since joining the Raptors.

"I only played nine games last year," Leonard said via Sportsnet's Michael Grange. "My first time playing five-on-five was probably in September or October whenever training camp started since the last game I played in January.

MORE: How Kawhi Leonard's missed games impacts his candidacy for MVP, other awards

"It was just about managing it and making sure nothing flares up and they want me to be as healthy, I want to be healthy down the road once the playoffs come, so it's just about making sure I'm good, that there ain't no downfalls and I'm just staying at a steady pace.

Leonard of course only played nine games last season, dealing with a nagging quad injury that led to a divide between the All-Star and the San Antonio Spurs organization.

So far he's appeared in 36 games and has shown that he's still every bit of the player he was prior to the injury. While performing well in the regular season still matters, Leonard and the Raptors seem to be on the same page in terms of his workload and according to Leonard the goal is keeping him healthy and ready for when the games matter most come mid-April and beyond.

"I'm not hurt or anything like that," Leonard continued. "But like I said, I already played three times (the number) of games I played last year so you can't just come out here and run your body into the ground.

"I guess the Raptors understand that. They want me to be healthy and (they're) listening and we're moving at the same pace."

Leonard was named an All-Star starter for the Eastern Conference and is averaging a career-high 27.6 points and 7.9 rebounds while shooting 50% from the field.

He will suit up on Friday night when the Raptors play the Rockets.

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