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Sore knee sidelines Kawhi Leonard, but Jeremy Lin join Raptors lineup

TORONTO — Kawhi Leonard was out and Jeremy Lin in as the Toronto Raptors welcomed the visiting Washington Wizards on Wednesday. It was just the latest roster juggling for Raptors coach Nick Nurse, who has seen Jonas Valanciunas, C.J.
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TORONTO — Kawhi Leonard was out and Jeremy Lin in as the Toronto Raptors welcomed the visiting Washington Wizards on Wednesday.

It was just the latest roster juggling for Raptors coach Nick Nurse, who has seen Jonas Valanciunas, C.J. Miles and Delon Wright (Memphis), Greg Monroe (Brooklyn) and Malachi Richardson (Philadelphia) go out the door in recent days with Lin (Atlanta), Marc Gasol (Memphis) and Malcom Miller (free agent, assigned to the Raptors 905 G-League team) coming in.

With Fred VanVleet out with a partial ligament injury to his left thumb, Lin immediately moved into the backup point guard spot behind Kyle Lowry.

"He's a good player," Nurse said of Lin. "We want to get good players on the floor ... I'm excited to see him."

A sore left knee kept Leonard on the sidelines for the second time in the last four games. The Raptors star has played in 43 of the Raptors 59 games this season — missing 10 for rest/load management reasons, two for a bruised right hip, two for left ankle soreness and two due to the knee.

His next scheduled action is Sunday's all-star game in Charlotte.

Asked if he would rather see Leonard not play Sunday, Nurse replied "Not at all, man."

"It's a heck of a showcase for a guy," he continued. "I think that's a great honour. ... That's as good as it gets looking back over your career and saying you played in that many (all-star) games."

Lin's move to Toronto had been widely reported but was not announced officially until two hours before Wednesday's game.

He averaged 10.7 points, 3.5 assists and 2.3 rebounds in 51 games with the Hawks this season.

The six-foot-three 200-pounder had appeared in 457 career NBA games, averaging 10.7 points a game over nine seasons with Golden State (2010-11), New York (2011-12), Houston (2012-14), the Lakers (2014-15), Charlotte (2015-16), Brooklyn (2016-18) and Atlanta (2018-19).

"Let's see what he looks like in a Raptors jersey," said Nurse.

Lin, 30, arrived just hours before tip-off and took part in a Raptors walkthrough.

"Just landed. This Canada weather not playing around," he wrote in a social media posting showing a photo of wintry Toronto.

The Raptors were also missing Patrick McCaw (sore right shoulder).

The Wizards were without Dwight Howard (back surgery), John Wall (left Achilles tendon tear) and Troy Brown Jr. (left ankle sprain). Tomas Satoransky (personal reasons) was listed as questionable.

Toronto came into the game having won five in a row with a record 42 victories before the all-star break.

After Wednesday, the Raptors are off until Feb. 22 when DeMar DeRozan and the San Antonio Spurs come to town.

Leonard, voted an Eastern starter, and Lowry, a reserve pick, are both part of this weekend's all-star festivities in Charlotte. OG Anunoby is slated to play in the Rising Stars game with Danny Green taking part in the three-point shooting contest.

 

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Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press




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