How dirty is it that the Raptors just met with DeMar DeRozan at NBA Summer League in Vegas and told him he would not be traded? This is exactly why fans should have NO PROBLEM with players showing no loyalty; owners show none. It’s always business, never personal, unless you are deporting your disgruntled superstar to Canada.
We all thought the rumors were crazy that Kawhi Leonard would be traded to the Raptors. We were wrong.
The most ironic part of this trade is that news broke about Kawhi Leonard and the Raptors in the middle of the night and most people didn’t hear about it until they woke up. Kawhi Leonard is easily the most silent superstar the NBA has ever seen. And the Toronto Raptors are relevant during business hours. Nobody is being woken up out of their sleep to 10-15 texts with breaking news about Kawhi or the Raptors. This trade impacts the Lakers, Clippers, 76ers, Spurs, and Raptors.
Alas, we are here and there are clear-cut winners and losers of this trade.
The San Antonio Spurs managed to trade an unhappy superstar out of the western conference to a place he didn’t want to go and got a real asset back. Everybody except me thought a deal would happen with one of the LA teams (neither team was going to pay the king’s ransom the Spurs wanted for him). DeRozan < Kawhi, but he’s a real player, and could flourish under Popovich’s tutelage. There’s also great news for Greg Popovich himself. He doesn’t have to spend his final years coaching in rebuild mode.
Lakers young players (Kuzma, Ball, Hart, Ingram)
The Lakers young players are relieved they won’t be traded, at least not yet. Rumors had been circling for months about the Lakers and Spurs doing a deal for Kawhi with some combination of Kuzma, Ball, Hart, Ingram, and draft picks. Now Lonzo Ball can stop faking like his knee is hurt and get back out in public working out.
The Raptors instantly got better and got an opportunity. Last year they won 59 games and got swept by LeBron in the second round of the playoffs. Now the Raptors have two options. They can either roll the dice and see if they can make it to the NBA Finals with Kawhi and hope they can convince him to resign long term. Or, they can wait the 60 days and try to get the Lakers or Clippers to give up draft picks and assets for Kawhi. Either way, the Raptors won in the short term but lost in the long term.
Both the Lakers and Clippers got a win in the trade. Both teams are reportedly on the list of desirable locations for Kawhi Leonard. Both teams had discussions with the Spurs about acquiring Kawhi, but the asking price was far too steep. Either team would have had to part with significant draft picks and players to get a deal done with the Spurs. With Kawhi is in the East with the Raptors, the asking price for Kawhi via trade will fall dramatically. Now, the question is will either the Lakers or Clippers pull the trigger on a trade, or will they gamble and wait till the offseason to hopefully sign Kawhi?
No more All-Star games and he has to Play LeBron in the playoffs again! OUCH! DeMar has been All-NBA 2x and is a 4x All-Star. Making the NBA All-Star team in the Western Conference was already a tough task before LeBron joined the Lakers. Every year named brand top players are left off the All-Star roster. It is much easier to make the All-Star team in the Eastern Conference. Unless Greg Popovich can get DeMar DeRozan to play like Kawhi Leonard, DeMar has made his last All-Star team.
The Philadelphia 76ers were holding out hope they could get LeBron or Kawhi Leonard in this offseason. Now that the Raptors own the rights to Kawhi Leonard there is no chance in hell they will trade him in-conference to the 76ers. They would essentially be giving Philly a “Big 3” and creating in the same situation they were in with LeBron in the East; a team they have no chance of beating in the playoffs for 10 years.
The Raptors still have Kyle Lowry. Kyle Lowry is a solid player to have on your team if he’s not making over $30M and your second best player. You can’t get to the NBA Finals or win a championship with him as your #2. If the Raptors could have traded Lowry’s anchor of a contract instead of DeRozan, they would have.
The biggest piece of bad news is that reports have surfaced that Kawhi has no interest in playing in Toronto. But, I guess Raptors fans can look at the bright side. The team won’t have to pay a luxury tax bill and will have plenty of money for big name free agents in 2019 who won’t sign there next offseason.