At the time, it was seen as a huge risk due to the uncertainty surrounding Leonard's health, and the fact that he's set to be a free agent this summer. Plus, on a personal level, the Raptors needed to give up DeMar DeRozan in the deal, and the longtime Raptors swingman was, and still is, Lowry's best friend in the NBA.
It all worked out for Lowry, Leonard and the Raptors, and now, after the championship journey is complete, the Finals MVP revealed what he told his point guard after the trade. Leonard said he texted Lowry after the deal and told him, "Let's go do something special. I know your best friend left, I know you're mad, but let's make this thing work out. And we're here today."
Kawhi said he texted Lowry early on: "Let's go do something special. I know your best friend left, I know you're mad, but let's make this thing work out. And we're here today."— Blake Murphy (@BlakeMurphyODC) June 14, 2019
That must have been an awkward situation for Leonard, who didn't exactly beg to be traded to the Raptors. All of a sudden he showed up as the bad guy in a way, because he was responsible for Lowry's best friend leaving the team. In fact, there were reports that Lowry was so upset about the deal that hefrom Masai Ujiri and the front office until late in the summer.
Leonard's decision to address the elephant in the room right out of the gate was proved to be a wise one. It had to be addressed, and there's no question it worked out, as the Raptors are now NBA champions.