Kawhi Leonard left the San Antonio Spurs in dramatic fashion, demanding a trade and ultimately landing with the Toronto Raptors. However, his best friend Jeremy Castleberry remains an assistant coach on the Spurs’ staff.
Michael C. Wright spoke to ESPN’s Zach Lowe about the San Antonio assistant (via The Lowe Post):
“You do realize that Kawhi’s best friend is still on the Spurs’ coaching staff, right? … [Jeremy] was sort of in the middle of all this, you know? Kawhi is his best friend. They played ball together in high school and college. I guess Kawhi got him on the Spurs’ coaching staff. They’re best friends or whatever and so you know that every day when he’s out there practicing, working out guys, they are asking what’s up with your boy?”
Wright believes Castleberry handled himself like a professional and hopes he did enough to potentially stay on the Spurs’ staff despite Leonard’s exit. He added that he hopes Castleberry can continue to have success as an NBA coach. In the podcast, Wright acknowledged that the Spurs did not want to put Castleberry through being a middleman between Leonard and the organization.
He has confirmed that Castleberry is still working for the organization. Lowe said that the Spurs would not have hired him unless they believed he was on his way to being a good coach.
The former San Diego State walk-on helped his high school team finish 30-3 as a senior. They won their division title and placed second in their regional tournament in Southern California. Castleberry spoke about Leonard back in 2013 (via San Diego Union-Tribune):
“As a kid, that’s all you dream about, playing in the NBA. But I’m 5-9 and my best friend is 6-7, and he’s out there dominating. Once I had the opportunity to come here and I could continue to help him, I realized we could try and make that dream come true. And we did it … So when you see everything happening, just as happy as Kawhi is, I get happy, too.”
Castleberry, who was Leonard’s personal rebounder during shootaround in college, was hired by the Spurs after he graduated from San Diego State with a degree in 2013.
He has remained close with his former teammate and has traveled with him for a few of Leonard’s trips abroad. It’s possible that Leonard will ask Raptors head coach Nick Nurse to hire his long-time friend.