DeMar DeRozan had been the face of the Toronto Raptors franchise for years. Naturally, it came as quite the shock when the team traded him for Kawhi Leonard.
DeRozan has been on record about his sadness regarding the trade and his mixed feelings with respect to the organization. However, it appears the former Raptors star and current team president Masai Ujiri made amends during the NBA restart in Orlando.
Ujiri told Taylor Rooks of Bleacher Report and GQ Magazine DeRozan approached him during one of the seeding games and made a gesture suggesting they bury the hatchet:
“I’m sitting down there, and I see this person walking straight to me with a blue tracksuit,” says Ujiri. It was DeMar DeRozan, who had spent nine seasons with the Raptors before he was traded to the Spurs for Kawhi Leonard. The trade had left DeRozan feeling “extremely hurt” and betrayed but earned the Raptors the franchise’s first championship. “And he walks up to me,” Ujiri continues, “and he gives me a big, big hug. This was really the first time that we’ve really had that kind of contact since the trade. I left the game and I felt that we had crossed a certain…we’d reached a new place.”
The trade, at the time, was frowned upon by many in Toronto.
Leonard had just been through a strange odyssey in San Antonio, where his camp seemed to feud with Spurs staffers. He also stated almost immediately he would not re-sign with the Raptors in free agency.
However, the trade paid massive dividends when “The Claw” led the Raptors to their first NBA championship. The result also prompted DeRozan to be more introspective about his old role in Toronto.
The deal was a seminal moment in franchise history, for better and for worse. But it seems DeRozan and Ujiri have made peace.