The NBA world has been waiting to see where Kawhi Leonard will end up, and we now have our answer. The San Antonio Spurs and Toronto Raptors have completed a multiplayer trade centering around Leonard and fellow All-Star DeMar DeRozan. Toronto will receive Leonard and Danny Green in exchange for DeRozan, Jakob Poeltl and a protected 2019 first-round draft pick.
Shortly after the news of a possible trade broke overnight, DeRozan posted what appears to be a response on Instagram, and he didn't seem too happy.
There was also a relatively quick response from Leonard's camp, indicating that he has no desire to play in Toronto.
Kawhi Leonard has no desire to play in Toronto, league source tells ESPN.— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) July 18, 2018
Leonard has reportedly expressed his desire to return to his native Southern California to play for either the Lakers or the Clippers, but last week the Raptors emerged as the odds-on favorite to land the disgruntled Spurs star, , possibly because of the Lakers' reported reluctance to include Brandon Ingram in any potential deal.
Acquiring DeRozan, an established All-NBA player, is in line with the Spurs' reported intention of remaining competitive in the post-Kawhi world rather than bottoming out and playing for draft picks. A one-two punch of DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge would keep San Antonio very much alive in the Western Conference playoff race.
Meanwhile it's an incredibly risky move for the Raptors, who would be giving up a homegrown star under contract until 2021 in exchange for Leonard, who is fully expected to opt out of his deal and become a free agent in the summer of 2019. Perhaps Toronto can convince Leonard to re-sign with them over the course of the season, much like the Thunder did with Paul George, but if Leonard leaves next summer the team would have gotten rid of DeRozan for essentially nothing.
Despite continued regular-season success, something clearly needed to change in Toronto after being eliminated by LeBron James and the Cavaliers in three straight postseasons. The team fired 2017-18 NBA Coach of the Year Dwane Casey and their arch nemesis left their conference, but apparently that wasn't enough. Now it looks like the Raptors will roll the dice on a superstar with questionable health who apparently doesn't even want to be there.
Talk about going all in.