DeRozan, a lifelong Raptor, was dealt to the Spurs in July as part of a package for the disgruntled Leonard.
"I'll always be grateful for my growth under your guidance", Leonard wrote about Popovich.
"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 word: THANK YOU!"
Leonard was effusive in his praise of the Spurs' fans, who watched him blossom into one of the game's premier two-way players over the first seven seasons of his career.
Gay says what separates the Spurs from other organizations and executives - including the subject to his subtext, Raptors president Masai Ujiri - was demonstrated in the circumstances that brought DeRozan to San Antonio.
Outside of that, this is a pretty boilerplate "thank you" letter from the reserved forward as he starts his new chapter in Toronto. Leonard wrote in a letter to the San Antonio Express-News on Thursday. "I'll always remember the city and the people of San Antonio!". He appeared in nine games for the Spurs in 2017-18, last playing on January 13 before sitting out the rest of the season with a quad injury.
"Through all the ups and downs - I'm glad there were many more ups!" The Los Angeles native improved each season he was with the Spurs, developing into a one-time NBA Finals MVP, a two-time All-Star, a two-time member of the All-NBA First Team and a two-time Defensive Player of the Year.
The new-look Raptors will host the Boston Celtics in its season opener on October 19.
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