Kawhi Leonard has been traded to the Raptors for DeMar DeRozan. How do both players feel about the trade? Who got the better end of the deal?
Kawhi Leonard wants out of San Antonio and apparently he's getting his wish.
However, he's not too excited about where he's going.
ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski and Chris Haynes reported early Wednesday morning that the Spurs "are finalizing a deal [to send Leonard to the Toronto Raptors] in a trade package that includes All-Star DeMar DeRozan." And, according to the report: "Leonard and DeRozan are both aware that an agreement could be imminent, and neither is expressing enthusiasm for the deal, league sources said."
Leonard's well-documented frayed relations with the Spurs led to San Antonio pursuing potential deals for the perennial All-Star, but his desire to sign with the Lakers (or, failing that, the Clippers) as a free agent next offseason depressed the trade market. The Celtics were interested in Leonard -- and, in fact, made an offer to San Antonio at last year's trade deadline -- but, knowing there was more than a good chance he'd be a one-year rental, were reportedly unwilling to part with with any of their key players. Nor were the Sixers, another rumored landing spot for Leonard. According to sources, both Boston and Philly made offers that were built around draft picks and not current talent, which didn't interest the Spurs.
With this rumored deal, San Antonio gets an All-Star who'd be under team control for a while: He has three years and $83 million left on his contract, including an Early Termination Option for the 2020-21 season. And Toronto, which finished with the best record in the East last year but was eliminated in the second round of the playoffs, now muscles its way back into contention for the Eastern Conference title, which was assumed to have become a two-team battle between the Celtics and 76ers.
At least for a year, anyway.
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As soon as the news broke that Kawhi Leonard wanted out of San Antonio, rumor mills began to churn out potential destinations and packages faster than you could say "blockbuster."
While a Kawhi-to-Boston trade has been one of the pundits’ favorite hypotheticals, the Celtics have been unwilling to part with any core players in talks, according to ESPN.
“Boston hasn’t included five players, including Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Kyrie Irving, Gordon Hayward and Al Horford,” the article writes. “The Celtics and Sixers have offered pick-heavy packages that haven’t moved the Spurs.”
If any team has the draft picks to swing a trade of that magnitude it has to be the Celtics. With four first-round picks in next year's draft, including the coveted Sacramento Kings pick Boston acquired in last year's Fultz-Tatum trade, Boston's arsenal of trade chips is as deep as anyone's.
The 76ers, one of Boston’s premier Eastern Conference rivals, have reportedly made Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, and Markelle Fultz off-limits in any trade talks.
Leonard, a two-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year and 2014 NBA Finals MVP, is a free-agent after the season ends, but San Antonio has continued to show a willingness to wait out the process until they are completely satisfied with an offer.