Examining the Raptors' handling of Kawhi Leonard, who continues to miss games for 'load management'

The Toronto Raptors are in a neck-and-neck race for the top spot in the Eastern Conference, a race that could factor into the MVP conversation around Giannis Antetokounmpo and Kawhi Leonard. The Raptors, however, seem to be content trying to win games without their star. Leonard is expected to miss his fourth straight game for "load management" on Wednesday, which has prompted some discussion.

The Raptors, of course, gave up DeMar DeRozan in order to get Leonard in a trade that simultaneously gutted and thrilled the Raptors fanbase. With Leonard hitting free agency if he opts out of his contract at the end of this season, the Raptors are hoping to keep him -- but they'll be facing stiff competition for the two-time All-Star in the offseason.

On Wednesday's "Off the Bench," Danny Kanell and Raja Bell talk about Leonard's significant time off and what it could mean for the Raptors and Leonard. While Kanell doesn't like the move, labeling it "soft," Bell said that it's part of a bigger picture. To Bell, the Raptors are letting Leonard know they'll accommodate him which, after the fiasco before his exit in San Antonio, makes a lot of sense. If the Raptors can sign Leonard to a long-term deal after this season, that's a huge win -- especially with how he's playing.

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