LeBron James signing with the Lakers may have been the biggest move of the Summer, but we now have a contender.
Once LeBron made his decision to go to L.A., the biggest NBA free agent had made his move. Since then, basketball fans have been waiting to hear about the association's next biggest free agent star, Kawhi Leonard. Leonard has been traded from the Spurs along with Danny Green to the Raptors for DeMar DeRozan, Jakob Poeltl, and a 2019 protected 1st round pick.
Kawhi had made it clear that he was ready to move on from the San Antonio Spurs. Normally, players seem to covet playing in the Spurs system for coach, Gregg Popovich. Following a few injuries, Kawhi Leonard sat for what many believed was too long. Was the team being cautious, was there drama behind the scenes, or had Kawhi already checked out?
One way or another, Leonard and San Antonio were ready to part ways this summer. This is a stark contrast from Demar DeRozan of the Toronto Raptors.
DeRozan wanted to stay
DeRozan signed a 5-year contract in 2016 and had made it clear that he was all-in for the Raptors. Despite having an All-Star buy into their system, the feeling was not mutual on Toronto's end.
Via Instagram, DeMar made it clear that he was not feeling the love from the organization. Per ESPN's David Alridge, DeRozan felt lied-to during this pricess by the Raptors' organization.
To make things more interesting, various sports media outlets have reported that Kawhi Leonard does not have interest in playing in Canada. So, neither player was pleased with this move. Yet another example of the business of professional basketball. Still, Toronto may have trouble attracting stars in the future after how they handled their 9-year man, DeRozan.
What now for these teams?
Did one team win the trade? The Spurs had to move Kawhi Leonard one way or another. To send he and Danny Green in return for All-Star scorer DeRozan, promising big Poeltl, and a first round pick is pretty good. San Antonio did the best they could here. Plus, they didn't have to keep Leonard in their Western Conference.
The Raptors future stemming from this trade is more uncertain. When healthy and playing, Leonard is one of the, if not the best, defenders in the league. His scoring two seasons ago was also among the best in the NBA - he is a star. However, he does not want to be in Toronto.
Will he bench himself until he gets his way much like he seemed to do in S.A.? He wanted to play back in his home town of Los Angeles; will he hold out until then? Even if he does play this season, he is on a one-year contract. The Raptors are all-in this season looking for a championship now that their biggest LeObstacle is now out West.
If he plays, the Raptors will be a defensive nightmare between him, O.G. Anunoby, Serge Ibaka, and Danny Green. Kyle Lowry is a scrappy defender as well.
Only time will tell how everything shakes out, but the deal is done. The Raptors are gambling on one season, while sacrificing their future. The Spurs are finally able to close an unfortunate chapter in Coach Popovich's impressive tenure.
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