At long last, the Spurs and Raptors have traded for Kawhi Leonard, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Chris Haynes. The deal will send Leonard and Danny Green to Toronto for DeMar DeRozan, Jakob Poeltl and a 2019 first-round pick protected 1-20 that turns into two second-round picks the following year, per Woj.
DeRozan, appears extremely unhappy with the move based on posts to Instagram early Wednesday morning, and according to Wojnarowski, Kyle Lowry “isn’t expressing enthusiasm for the deal” either. ESPN’s Chris Haynes reported that Leonard also has “no desire to play in Toronto.”
None of the stars seem okay with this move.
Leonard and Spurs organization have battled for close to a year now, and things haven’t been right since his original quadriceps injury in the summer of 2017. A last attempt to make amends with Leonard ahead of free agency went stale despite head coach Gregg Popovich’s efforts. The sides had to move on.
DeMar DeRozan apparently isn’t taking the trade well, posting to Instagram, “Be told one thing & the outcome another. Can’t trust em. Ain’t no loyalty in this game. Sell you out quick for a little bit of nothing ... Soon you’ll understand ... Don’t disturb.” Recently, he’d deleted all of his pictures from the app.
But there’s no denying that if Leonard’s healthy, the Raptors got better at a time when the Eastern Conference is as open as it’s been in recent memory with LeBron James’ move out West. The Spurs get to stay good too. It’s a matter of both sides gaining the trust of their newly acquired stars now, which is what does make this move risky on both sides.
Why this trade makes sense for the Raptors
If there was ever a time for Toronto to make a move it was now, not only after James left, not only after firing Coach of the Year Dwane Casey, but because Leonard is one of the best talents who was ever going to be available on the trade market. When he’s healthy, he’s a top-5 or maybe better player in the league.
With the window starting to close on point guard Kyle Lowry, who’s 32 years old, a smaller market like Toronto needed to make this move with more desperation than other teams in play. They did.
With Leonard in the fold, there’s a realistic shot at an NBA Finals appearance, and no longer should this team get swept in the postseason.
Why this trade makes sense for the Spurs
San Antonio doesn’t have the culture, nor the personnel, to tank. Popovich is in his final years of coaching, and LaMarcus Aldridge is in his prime. The Spurs could still make the playoffs!
A deal surrounding another superstar would always be favorable, and DeRozan is a solid return for Leonard given the circumstances of his unknown injury AND his questionable desire to stay with any team past the one year left on his contract. He’s reportedly interested in finding his way to Lakers someway, somehow.
The rebuilding trades were also reportedly off the table, with Wojnarowski and Ramona Shelburne reporting that the Sixers weren’t offering Markelle Fultz, the Celtics weren’t trading Jayson Tatum or Jaylen Brown, and the Lakers were remaining confident they could land Leonard in 2019 free agency instead of losing talent now. The deal with Toronto appears to be the best left to accomplish San Antonio’s goals of winning now, and building for the future.
This is an impressive get, given the situation, for San Antonio, and a bold move that just might pay off for Toronto. The Eastern Conference is open, and the Raptors have just put themselves in play to take it.