Monday, 20 August, 2018

Spurs and Raptors agree trade for Kawhi Leonard and DeMar DeRozan

Gordon Hayward says the Raptors will still be a challenge in the East with Kawhi Leonard Raptors’ Masai Ujiri apologizes to DeMar DeRozan for ‘gap in communication’
Diane Mills | 19 July, 2018, 05:55

Executive Masai Ujiri is moving forward with the trade with the determination to convince Leonard to resign with the Raptors when he becomes a free agent next summer.

It's unclear how healthy Leonard is now - ESPN's Zach Lowe has reported multiple times that potential Leonard suitors had no idea how healthy he is, something that created a holdup in trade talks.

Both teams announced the trade on their websites shortly after noon.

Early morning Wednesday, DeRozan posted some vague messaging to his Instagram account that would suggest a trade could be imminent. But after getting swept in the second round by Cleveland, the Raptors decided massive changes were necessary - first the firing of coach of the year Dwane Casey, and now the trading of a perennial All-Star who once famously declared "I am Toronto".

Popovich said he and Leonard spoke often this summer "about a lot of different things, on and off the court" but that no agreement could be reached that would keep him in San Antonio. This isn't likely a case of signing an injured DeMarre Carroll, and expensively whiffing on free agency.

DeRozan was selected by Toronto with the ninth overall pick in the 2009 NBA Draft. Wojnarowski and Haynes are reporting that neither Leonard nor DeRozan are "expressing enthusiasm" for the swap.

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DeRozan, 28, who averaged 23.0 points last season, reportedly was assured by Raptors officials during the NBA Summer League he would not be traded. His acquisition elevates the Raptors into the same conversation with the Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers atop the Eastern Conference, and gives Toronto a true superstar around whom to build its roster.

PLAYED THROUGH TRAGEDY - Leonard was a junior at Martin Luther King High School in the Riverside neighbourhood of Los Angeles when his father was fatally shot at the vehicle wash he owned in Compton on January 18, 2008.

"Kawhi is a better player than DeRozan so they get better", one National Basketball Association talent evaluator said. He played for only one month before missing the remainder of the season. And don't forget Paul George was going to be a Laker, too, and stuck with the Thunder.

Well, we still don't, but now at least we know what they weren't willing to part with for the disgruntled Spurs star.

After seeing stars like Vince Carter, Tracy McGrady, Damon Stoudemire, and Chris Bosh leave the Raptors over the years, it was refreshing to see DeRozan develop into an All-Star and commit to the franchise long-term.

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