Ex-Aztec Kawhi Leonard will be traded by Spurs to Raptors

Doug Mendoza
July 19, 2018

The news slowly broke overnight.

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.

Talks between the Spurs and Raptors have intensified in recent days, league sources said.

COMING OFF INJURY - Leonard missed San Antonio's first 27 games last season with a right quadriceps injury, making his debut on December 12 against Dallas. Despite a players-only meeting where he was asked by teammates to return to the lineup, he sat out the rest of the season.

Despite acquiring Leonard, some fans have an issue with the team's loyalty to DeRozan, who has given everything to the club, and how that contrasts with Leonard's apparent disinterest in being a Raptor. He was selected by Toronto with the ninth overall pick in the 2009 National Basketball Association draft.

ESPN reports the Raptors will send All-Star DeMar DeRozan back to the Spurs as part of package.

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DeRozan, who turns 29 on August 7, has been with the Raptors his entire career. And, because it wasn't, the Kawhi Leonard saga has officially come to an end.

Leonard reportedly prefers to play in Los Angeles, for either the Lakers or Clippers, so Bucher's tweet isn't surprising at all. The team also boasts recent No. 2 picks Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram, although both could conceivably be traded to add more veteran players around James. Both Leonard and Green are eligible to become free agents next summer.

LeBron James's decision to leave the Cleveland Cavaliers and sign a four-year, $153 million contract with the Lakers was undoubtedly the biggest of the off-season, but Wednesday's trade is a close second. If they are unable to convince Leonard to stay and he leaves the Raptors after one season for the shiny shores of Los Angeles, then at least they have these contracts off of their books and can start fresh with a rebuild in 2019. Leonard is one of the top two-way players in the game, a reliable scorer and consistent candidate for Defensive Player of the Year. While the Spurs cleared him to play, Leonard never felt comfortable, and the gap between the two sides only seemed to widen. That was allegedly the tipping point for Leonard.

In this January 5 file photo, San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard handles a ball before a game against the Phoenix Suns.

According to multiple reports, the Toronto Raptors appear to be on the verge of finalizing a blockbuster trade.

When the Raptors gave DeRozan a US$139-million contract before the 2016 season, it was an acknowledgement that they valued being a good team. Last season, he had arguably his best all around season, averaging 23.0 points, 3.9 rebounds, 5.2 assists, 1.1 steals, and 1.1 three-pointers per game.

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