Atlantic Notes: Leonard, DeRozan, Russell, Watanabe

The Raptors‘ potential pursuit of Kawhi Leonard is the hottest rumor making the rounds at summer league, according to Doug Smith of The Toronto Star. Toronto appears poised to join the Lakers, Sixers and Celtics as teams in the conversation for the Spurs’ star. With LeBron James out of the East, the addition of Leonard could tilt the balance of power in the race for the conference title.

Smith speculates that San Antonio would ask for DeMar DeRozan, OG Anunoby, two first-round draft choices and another player or pick. Smith suggests countering with an offer of DeRozan or Kyle Lowry, along with either Norman Powell or Jakob Poeltl, plus Delon Wright and a pair of first-rounders.

DeRozan erased his Instagram feed this week and posted the message, “We had some bumps along the way. But the reward is in the journey. I’m in my bag.” However, a source close to him tells Michael Grange of Rogers Sportsnet that there’s no significance behind the move and it’s not an indication that a trade is coming (Twitter link).

There’s more tonight from the Atlantic Division:

  • The Raptors have become the new odds-on favorite to acquire Leonard, notes Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News. OddsShark.com, a sports betting site, lists Toronto as the even-money favorite to swing a deal for Leonard.
  • The Nets haven’t had any extension talks with D’Angelo Russell, according to Michael Scotto of The Athletic. Russell, who was acquired in a trade with the Lakers last summer, put up some impressive numbers in first 12 games with Brooklyn before being sidelined by a left knee injury. He posted a 20.9/4.7/5.7 line on 46% shooting prior to the injury, which required arthroscopic surgery. Russell, 22, will make $7.02MM in the upcoming season and will be a restricted free agent next summer if no extension deal is reached.
  • Japanese star Yuta Watanabe is making a bid for an NBA job with his performance for the Nets‘ summer league team, writes Candace Buckner of The Washington Post. Watanabe averaged 9.8 points, 5.3 rebounds and 2.0 blocks in four summer league games. “It’s great for me,” he said. “Great experience, but it’s still summer league. I still have a lot to go, so my goal is not here.”
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20 thoughts on “Atlantic Notes: Leonard, DeRozan, Russell, Watanabe

  1. If you’re the Raptors you go for it even though it’s only going to be one year. They’ve got nothing to lose.

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    • formerlyz

      Plus if they can actually get rid of DeRozan AND get Kawhi that’s a double plus for them.

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      • ThePriceWasRight

        it’s not the getting rid of demar that I have a problem with. it’s the one year chance at a title and they give up 2 1sts. If the raps are due for a rebuild after this season as many predict, it’s hard to rebuild without first round picks.

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          • Johnny h

            Yes, but A) you can get the picks back in other deals and B) Ujiri has a proven track record for drafting extremely well.

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            • ThePriceWasRight

              that’s a weird take. who on this team has been a real star that he drafted?

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        • formerlyz

          Ya I would agree about the multiple draft picks. I can see 2 young players in a deal, with a draft pick, but more than that for 1 year is more than I think anyone should give up, as much as I think he is a top 3-4 player when healthy. That’s also probably why nothing has happened yet.

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    • Johnny h

      It actually makes so much sense when you think about it. They know they are sort of in purgatory so might as well go for broke

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  2. x%sure

    Toronto has some quality youth– Enough to get a change in strategy with SA. Tough call though missing 2 r1s– they wiil say just 1 r1.

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  3. Lowry for 1yr of Kawahi makes sense but losing DeMar that makes no sense!

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  4. Great news if Kawhi goes to Toronto instead of Philly, so they won’t lose Dario/Fultz. I agree DeRozan seems too much, much happier if they get rid of Lowry, not so good & aging, but anything to keep Kawhi from Philly, I am all for it. Also Lakers if they have to send Ball/Ingram/kuzma… rather he goes as FA next year, you can’t lose young talent for Kawhi, doesn’t make sense.

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  5. all in ad

    This Pacers fan hopes Toronto bankrupts their future by giving up all those players/picks for a one year rental. This rumor as written is way off. No team would do that.

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  6. Dionis

    Kawhi Leonard immediately makes them a contender for the title. Nothing against Derozan but the effect Kawhi has on both ends of the court is elite. The Spurs could still be a top 3 seed in the West with Derozan,Aldridge, and Murray leading the way also.

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  7. The more i think about it, I don’t think Raps see this as a rental situation as much as a salary dump opportunity. They’re long term money situation looks rough this AND next year with Lowry, DeRozen and Serge each making over 22M. They’re paying luxury tax this year and slotted to pay at least 16M in it again next season (that excludes the repeater surcharge).

    With how poorly that group has underperformed in the playoffs, the writing is on the wall that they need to move at least one of those guys, and Spurs are not taking Serge. Those peices (OG, picks, etc.) are cost of potentially getting off a steep luxury tax bill next season. By my count Spurs sending them Green’s expiring and the difference in Leonards current deal wipes out their luxury tax bill next year and cuts it down some this year too.

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    • x%sure

      The more that your angle makes sense, the more that the Kawhi option, for TOR, does not… because there are less asset-exhausting expirings available. Derozan is valuable enough that TOR should be able to ditch him AND keep their young players.

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