After what felt like an entire year of growing distance and unease between one of the league’s most decorated franchises and its biggest star, the San Antonio Spurs finally pulled the trigger on a trade that sends Kawhi Leonard (and Danny Green) to Toronto. In exchange, the Spurs receive All-Star guard DeMar DeRozan, young big man Jakob Poeltl, and a 2019 first-round pick protected from Nos. 1-20. The pick becomes two future second-round picks if it does not convey next summer.
Leonard has the option to become a free agent next summer, and he’s voiced his desire to return home to Los Angeles and play for the Lakers. But similar players have echoed similar sentiments before turning around and signing a max contract elsewhere.
Regardless of Leonard’s future plans, this was a blockbuster trade and a could be a huge get for the Raptors. But not every team is a winner in this trade. Neither is every player.
Winner: The Eastern Conference
“The West has all the talent.” “No top-5 players are in the Eastern Conference.” “The East is trash.” Well, now the East has one of the top five players in the NBA. That’s the come up of the year right there.
Loser: Boston, Philly, Milwaukee, Washington
Now the East actually has to deal with Leonard in the playoffs. Condolences to all the teams hopeful of making it to the Eastern Conference Finals, or further. Good luck playing against playoff Kawhi.
Loser: San Antonio Spurs
The Spurs had few good offers on the table for one year of Leonard’s services. According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the packages they were extended from Portland, Boston and Philly didn’t include any top-tier players.
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