The Toronto Raptors have privately admitted that the success of the Oklahoma City Thunder in convincing Paul George to re-sign with the team last offseason emboldened them to pursue their trade for Kawhi Leonard.

Executives from the Thunder credit the bond George formed with Russell Westbrook as the most significant factor in his decision.

Kyle Lowry has been more reluctant to play the role of recruiter. 

“Kawhi is an unbelievable basketball player,” said Lowry. “He just does him. There are a lot of things he can do talent-wise where you’re just like wow.”

Lowry says he and Leonard have become friendly.

Ujiri maintains a regular dialogue with Leonard, as well as his agent, Mitch Frankel, and his uncle Dennis Robertson.