After months of reported drama between Kawhi Leonard and the San Antonio Spurs, the franchise has finally given into the superstar’s trade request – but not completely. Right before ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Chris Haynes broke news of the deal, the All-Star guard posted some cryptic updates to his Instagram story. He added that there will be a trade call with the league office Wednesday. The only players locked down past the 2019 season are Norman Powell and OG Anunoby.
The Raptors will have this season to win Leonard over and get him to re-sign – just as Oklahoma City did with Paul George. When he fired Casey, it was the first time the team president, who has led a charmed existence in Toronto, made a move that put much scrutiny squarely on himself. Leonard was entering the past year of his contract and had already made clear that he had no interest in re-signing with San Antonio. Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich said on Wednesday that he believes Leonard is healthy and that he expects to coach Leonard on Team USA.
While Toronto may not be able to offer the Hollywood exposure that National Basketball Association stars can enjoy in Los Angeles, there are many upsides for players of Leonard’s calibre, said Vijay Setlur, sports marketing expert and professor in the School of Business at York University.
Drake also included a note of welcome for Leonard.
As far as Leonard joining the Lakers next season, there’s good reason to be skeptical.
The Spurs were never going to trade Leonard to the Lakers. Both Leonard and Green are eligible to become free agents next summer. He signed a five-year deal in 2015 worth more than $90 million.
A two-time All-NBA selection, Leonard also has been named NBA Defensive Player of the Year twice.
Leonard resides in San Diego County in the off-season. Since making his first of his four career All-Star berths in 2013-14, DeRozan has averaged 23.4 points, 4.5 rebounds and 4.2 assists per game in that span.
For Leonard’s part, league sources say he “has no desire” to play in Toronto.
Kawhi Leonard of the San Antonio Spurs looks on during the game against the Denver Nuggets on January 13, 2018, at the AT&T Center in San Antonio.
According to multiple reports, the Toronto Raptors appear to be on the verge of finalizing a blockbuster trade.
The Raptors then save the $27.7 million owed to DeRozan in 2019-20 and the $3.7 million Poeltl would make on a qualifying offer (and then whatever he would make on an extension) with Leonard and Green both expiring next summer.