The highest-profile trade candidate of the 2018 NBA offseason finally appears to be on the move, as the Raptors and Spurs have reached an agreement in principle to swap Kawhi Leonard and DeMar DeRozan. The Spurs will also acquire Jakob Poeltl and a protected 2019 first-round pick, sending out Danny Green in the deal.
It’s a fascinating trade for a number of reasons, not least of which is the apparent distaste that each star has for it. DeRozan, who was reportedly recently informed by the Raptors that he wouldn’t be traded, published an early-morning Instagram story saying that there “ain’t no loyalty in this game,” and TNT’s David Aldridge (Twitter link) hears from a source that the longtime Raptor remains “extremely upset.” DeRozan isn’t backing off the claim that the team lied to him about a potential trade, Aldridge adds.
As for Leonard, his long-reported desire has been to return home to Los Angeles, so a move to Toronto represents just about the furthest thing possible from what he wanted. While it would be a surprise if he refuses to report to his new team, a long-term stay with the Raptors beyond the 2018/19 season will be a “very tough sell,” a source tells Aldridge (Twitter link),
Here’s more on the NBA’s latest blockbuster trade:
- The Spurs are entering uncharted territory and facing an uncertain future, according to Michael C. Wright of ESPN.com, who relays a few interesting tidbits on the franchise and Leonard in his latest article.
- Sources tell Wright that Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich “begged’ Leonard to let him announce to the media last season that the star forward wouldn’t be returning from his quadriceps injury, but Kawhi declined each time, believing he could still return. Leonard already “felt betrayed” by the club’s handling of his quad issue, and the uncertainty surrounding his absence and possible return didn’t help either side.
- In a separate piece for ESPN.com, Wright breaks down the timeline of the Leonard saga, which started during the forward’s rehab process in the summer of 2017.
- Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe passes along several initial thoughts on the deal, including the ripple effect the Raptors‘ acquisition of Leonard will have on other Eastern Conference contenders like the Celtics.
- This isn’t the first time that the Raptors have looked into the possibility of moving DeRozan. According to Marc Stein of The New York Times, Toronto held exploratory discussions with the Timberwolves during the 2017 offseason about a deal that would have sent DeRozan to Minnesota and Andrew Wiggins to the Raptors. Those talks likely took place before Wiggins signed his five-year, maximum-salary extension.