After an already flaming summertime free agency period, things heated up a little bit more as the much anticipated Kawhi Leonard trade finally happened. It was not the Lakers nor the 76ers that landed him though, it was the Toronto Raptors. Sure, let Kawhi join Demar Derozan and Kyle Lowry on a good strong team in the east, why not? No, the Raptors definitely traded Demar DeRozan as well as Jakob Poeltl and a protected top 20 first round draft pick for next year.
This trade pits the Raptors with a two time Defensive Player of the Year winner who apparently has his eyes set on the city of Angels rather than anywhere else, but it puts a pretty upset all-star in Derozan with a decent crew that seems to be cleaning house on all of the players that were on its championship team just four years ago. With Duncan’s retirement, Parker signed with the Hornets, Ginobili still not knowing what he is going to do, and Danny green being shipped with Leonard, the Spurs lineup is full of new faces.
DeRozan may have stated on his Instagram that he was upset with the decision to trade him, but sooner or later he has got to be excited about not only playing under one of the best coaches in basketball right now but his new teammate LaMarcus Aldridge. Aldridge in 75 games last year averaged 23 points a game with almost 9 rebounds to go along with it, he’s a wonderful outlet guy who also can thrive in the pick and roll. DeRozan in 80 games last season averaged 23 points a game with 5 assists to go along with it. The Spurs won 47 games last season without Leonard, now to add the still explosive, veteran DeRozan to the mix they should definitely ante that up. Coach Popovich can maybe even work out a bunch of those postseason jitters, and maybe just maybe they can make a run at being like the classic Spurs that people love and hate at the same time. But that’s a lot of maybes. I see this deal as working out more in the favor of the Spurs however, the Raptors could definitely find a beneficial outcome out of this trade. Already being a top-tier team, and now adding a top-tier player, if he can work past his injuries and find the motivation to play, Kawhi Leonard could help Toronto make a run in the East and if that doesn’t happen, the Raptors could deny trying to re-sign him and lose his contract next summer and focus on a big star next season.
Nearly nine months after being called Toronto’s Kobe Bryant and being placed with one of the best veteran scoring big men in the game with a coach like Pop, could this tandem be a force to be reckoned with in the West? Maybe, maybe not.
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