The Toronto Raptors traded DeMar DeRozan and a protected, first-round pick to the San Antonio Spurs for Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green. The protected pick is shielded 1-20 and becomes two, second-round picks after one year. There’s several reasons this trade makes no sense for the Raptors.
The first reason is DeRozan was loyal to the franchise and was completely caught off guard by the trade. He posted on his Instagram feed, “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…” This is a bad look for a franchise that already has a hard time attracting big time free agents. DeRozan was reportedly told he was not getting traded during the summer by the Raptors’ front office.
Another reason the Raptors are losing in the deal is Kawhi seems like a rental player for one year. He’s already said he has no interest in playing in Toronto and Toronto doesn’t have the firepower to beat the Warriors or maybe even a full-strength Celtics team. So, they’ve lost their best player in DeRozan and a first round pick to potentially be in the Conference Finals or lose to the Warriors or Rockets in the Finals.
If the Raptors wanted to get rid of DeRozan’s contract, they should have traded for a player who wanted to be there or received a few draft picks in return. If you want to blow it up, it’s a good time. They could have started a rebuild while LeBron, the Rockets and the Warriors duke it out for championships. Toronto needs to try to win Kawhi over or this will be a complete loss for the Raptors.
Greg Popovich came out the big winner of the trade. He showed that a superstar is not going to dictate to him where and when he’s going to play. There were lots of questions concerning whether Leonard should have sat out in the playoffs to begin with. With Kawhi playing hardball stating the Lakers (another Western Conference team) was the only squad he would play for, Popovich stayed strong. He sent him to the Eastern conference for that team’s best player and a first round pick.
This could change the way Superstars are handled in the future. NBA teams often cave to the demands of stars, but it may not be that way anymore. Kawhi is a top 5 player when he’s healthy and Popovich essentially told him to “shove it” when it came down to what he wanted. When asked about Leonard, Popovich declined comment and said he’s only moving forward