The lengthy and awkward Kawhi Leonard saga has finally come to an end. On Wednesday morning July 18, 2018, The San Antonio Spurs traded Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green to the Toronto Raptors for DeMar DeRozan, Jakob Poeltl, and a protected 2019 first-round pick, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports.
Spurs have agree to trade Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green to Toronto for DeMar DeRozan, Jakob Poeltl and a protected 2019 first-round pick, league sources tell ESPN. Trade call with league office is starting shortly.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) July 18, 2018
Masai Ujiri pulled off the heist of the century. I have no idea why the Spurs organization would want anything to do with DeMar DeRozan. DeMar is easily the most overvalued and underwhelming NBA All-Star in the game today. His game is dreadfully archaic much like his nappy helmet hair. Despite being 6’7”, he has absolutely no defensive presence. Over his nine-year career, DeMar has averaged a resounding one steal and two turnovers a game. He hardly ever guards the opposing team’s best player, he can’t make a three-point shot to save his life (career 28% three-point shooter), and he doesn’t rebound the ball at a high rate.
DeRozan is SOFT. He relies entirely too much on touch fouls on fall away jumpers and unbalanced drives to the rim. Despite DeMar piling up turnovers and missed field goals trying to get to the free throw line, the Raptors were able to win games with their bench play and leadership from Kyle Lowry. There were too many occasions this season where Dwane Casey sat DeRozan down for the fourth quarter and sometimes even entire halves. He has proven that he can’t be the best player on a championship team. I want to give Pop and the Spurs the benefit of the doubt. Maybe this was the best offer they had for Kawhi considering his strong determination to play in Los Angeles long term.
This off-season couldn’t have gone better for the Toronto Raptors. First LeBron leaves the east for LA. Now they get rid of DeMar DeFrozen while keeping their young talented core and adding Kawhi. This is a low-risk high reward situation for the Raptors. Especially if they can convince Kawhi to sign the 5 year $190 million deal they will offer him next year. It’s been reported that Kawhi hates the idea of playing in Toronto, I’m sure Paul George wasn’t thrilled about playing in Oklahoma City when he first arrived on the plains. If Kawhi is healthy, Toronto is a lock to appear in the Eastern Conference Finals. By only giving up Jakob Poeltl and a protected 2019 first-round pick, they were able to keep young consistent performers on their team like Fred Van Vleet, OG Anunoby, and Pascal Siakam. Their defensive intensity will increase exponentially leading to easy buckets. This was a great move by Ujiri and the Raptors. Now their main focus should be making Kawhi happy, and who better to show Kawhi a good time than the Champagne Papi himself.
Kawhi is in a really good situation whether he believes it or not. He’s playing for a good organization with a great fan base. One of his concerns with San Antonio was his inability to expand his brand and garner big endorsements deals due to the small market nature of the Spurs franchise. Toronto represents all of Canada in the NBA so Kawhi instantly has a much larger fan base supporting him. He is playing with a fellow All-Star, Kyle Lowry, so he won’t be expected to carry the team.
As for DeRozan, he spoke publicly about his issues with depression and inability to “have fun” playing basketball. It will be interesting to see how he gets along with Pop and how much fun he has in San Antonio. Prior to the trade, one spark of optimism for DeMar this off-season was LeBron James leaving the Eastern Conference. It is no secret that LeBron owned DeRozan, Toronto, and the Eastern Conference for the past decade. Instead of finally getting away from King James, DeMar is guaranteed to play him four times a year for his tenth consecutive season.