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The Toronto Raptors on Saturday extended their appreciation to Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green for helping lead them to their first NBA championship, hours after the two departed for rival teams in Los Angeles as free agents.

Leonard agreed to a four-year, US$142-million deal with the Clippers, while Green is heading to the Lakers on a two-year, US$30-million contract.

“We are very thankful for the year that Kawhi and Danny played with us here in Toronto, and I know the city and the entire country of Canada are grateful for everything they did to help us to win our first NBA Championship,” team president Masai Ujiri said in a statement.

“On behalf of the Raptors, I say a very heartfelt thank you to Kawhi and to Danny, and we send them and their families nothing but good wishes. As an organization, the Raptors will focus on the future and continue our pursuit of a second championship.”

Head coach Nick Nurse told reporters at the Las Vegas Summer League on Saturday night that he understood Leonard’s decision.

“I think you can’t blame a guy for wanting to go home,” Nurse said, according to ESPN. “That’s what he texted me [Saturday]: ‘I’m going home.’ And I just said, ‘You’ve changed a lot of lives, man, by what you’ve accomplished in Toronto. Mine especially.’

“And thanked him for what he did, and we’ll look to the future, and we’ll look to [win a title] again.”

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