Early Wednesday morning, news was circulating that the Spurs had agreed to send Kawhi Leonard to the Toronto Raptors in a deal that included NBA All-Star DeMar DeRozan. By late morning, the deal was finalized.
The deal is Spurs small forward/shooting guard Danny Green, along with Leonard and going the other way, the Raptors sent Demar Derozan, Jakob Poeltl and a protected 2019 first-round pick.
This trade ended a long and exhausting saga for both Leonard and the Spurs who had a high profile falling out in during the 2017-2018 season. After playing only nine games, Leonard sat for the remainder of the year, nursing an injured hamstring. There was speculation that he could have returned during the season, including the Spurs short playoff run, but Leonard chose to continue his rehabilitation in New York as opposed to rejoining the team. Leonard was reportedly upset with the way the team handled his injury situation, and with comments made by Coach Gregg Popovich and teammate Tony Parker regarding the situation.
Leonard is in the final year of his five-year, $94.3 Million Dollar contract, and is set to become a free agent in the summer of 2019.
DeRozan is in the midst of a five-year, $139 million dollar contract, signed with the team in 2016. He has spent his entire career in Toronto after being drafted 9th overall in 2009.
According to reports, DeRozan was told by the Raptors front office that he would not be traded. As news broke of the trade, he voiced his displeasure on his Instagram story saying “Be told one thing & outcome another. Can’t trust em. Ain’t no loyalty in this game. Sell you out quick for a little bit of nothing.”
There’s no doubt some will view what Toronto did here as a huge gamble and this trade will have a huge effect on a number of teams not named the Raptors and the Spurs. Will it be a trade that pans out over the season and then hurts the Raptors long-term? Or, is there a chance Leonard decides to stay in Toronto after the Raptors finally see some playoff success?