According to sources, and a report from The Athletic’s Shams Charania, the Toronto Raptors are planning on hiring Jeremy Castleberry, former assistant video coordinator (not assistant to the video coordinator) for the San Antonio Spurs, as their newest player development coach.
Sources: The Raptors are hiring Spurs assistant video coordinator Jeremy Castleberry as a player development coach. Castleberry earned degree at SDSU, worked his way up in Spurs system from video room.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) August 20, 2018
It does not take a genius to connect the dots here, but let’s do it anyway.
The Spurs run a solid professional basketball franchise with a team culture that is seen as the aspirational standard across the NBA. They hire the now 27-year-old Castleberry as their assistant video coordinator in 2013 after he’s finished playing ball at San Diego State. This, as it happens, is the same school at which noted NBA All-Star Kawhi Leonard also played his college ball. Prior to that, if you care to go back that far, Leonard and Castleberry even played basketball together in high school. Kawhi’s NBA career began in the 2011-12 season, just a bit before Castleberry joined the team. The two have been together ever since (as ESPN implies here).
Leonard, as you may have heard, has since been traded, and is in fact now a Toronto Raptor (hoo boy). He has one year left on his contract and the Raptors would very much like him to re-sign and remain in Toronto. Since Leonard agitated to have himself traded out of San Antonio, and the Raptors just hired a staffer from San Antonio, it stands to reason — even without reports coming in as such — that the two men, Kawhi and Castleberry, are in fact friends. Why else would Toronto bring in the former assistant video coordinator for the Spurs if not to try to make the situation for Leonard just that much more comfortable? (My point is, Gregg Popovich isn’t walking through that door anytime soon.)
Unlike, say, that time the Raptors signed Chris Bosh’s friend Jarrett Jack to an out-sized contract in a desperate attempt to keep the former All-Star in town, there is no down side here for the Raptors. As we’ve already established, anyone working for the Spurs is likely a decent enough hire — they’re the aspirational standard, remember — and anyone who is friendly with Kawhi only improves the chances he’d like to stick around in Toronto. On top of that, unlike handing out a $20 million contract, this hire is a decision easily undone in the event Leonard does indeed decide to leave Toronto (which to my mind is only growing increasingly unlikely).
There you have it, it’s a win-win-win for the Raptors. Welcome to Toronto, Jeremy Castleberry. You have already become the most significant player development coaching hire since...
I must admit, I’ve lost the line here and can’t even think of a proper comparison to make. Let’s leave this dot unconnected for now.