Breaking: Spurs trade Kawhi Leonard, Danny Green to Raptors for DeMar DeRozan, Jakob Poeltl, 1st-round pick
The San Antonio Spurs have traded star forward Kawhi Leonard and sharpshooter Danny Green to the Toronto Raptors for shooting guard DeMar DeRozan, center Jakob Poeltl, and a protected 2019 first-round pick, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. The first-rounder will be protected from spots 1-20 with the potential of becoming two second-round picks after one year.
Leonard had been estranged from the team since his camp disagreed with the diagnosis from the Spurs medical team, opting to seek a second opinion from a private party in hopes to alleviate his quad injury. The 27-year-old played a mere nine games last season, looking still a shadow of his former self, choosing to remain out for the duration of the playoffs.
DeRozan had been the longest-tenured All-Star member of the Raptors, taking over Vince Carter’s mantle as the son of Toronto after spending his first nine seasons with the team.
Following a career-high year in 2016-17, the mid-range artist dialed back a bit to fit into a ball-sharing offense that took the pressure off the backcourt, but still averaged 23 points, 3.9 rebounds, and a career-best 5.2 assists in 80 games last season.
The Spurs and Raptors had been slowly progressing in talks of a swap for two weeks, but both players recently had become aware of the possibility, fuming in response to what now is their immediate future at hand.
According to ESPN’s Chris Haynes, DeRozan was in Las Vegas during the Summer League and was promised he would not be traded, evoking the following response over his Instagram story.
“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… Soon you’ll understand… Don’t disturb…”
President Masai Ujiri wanted to inform DeRozan himself of the decision late last night, hours before the deal was completed. DeRozan talked with longtime backcourt partner Kyle Lowry last night.
Ujiri is taking a large risk, banking on selling Leonard on the culture of the team, after getting no clear assurance that he will be willing to re-sign with the Raptors next season. Leonard has been intent on signing with the Los Angeles Lakers in the offseason, which he could do by opting out of the last year of his contract next season.
While the Lakers, Boston Celtics, and Philadelphia 76ers seemed like the major inquirers for Leonard at first, neither of the three teams made a substantial offer for the two-time Defensive Player of the Year — allowing Toronto to swoop in with a heftier offer, as predicted by Oddsshark earlier last week.