The Spurs finally pulled the trigger on the Kawhi trade and sent him off to the Raptors in exchange for all-star guard DeMar DeRozan. The full trade details are as follows: Spurs receive DeMar DeRozan, Jakob Poeltl, and a protected 2019 first-round pick. Raptors receive Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green.
I like this trade for both teams. Spurs are able to get rid of Kawhi and all of the drama he caused this year while at least getting a star wing player in return. DeRozan has his problems at times, mainly in the playoffs, but he is athletic and an all-star caliber player. He can make the Spurs fun to watch and help them stay in the playoffs now that Kawhi is gone. Spurs also get a reliable young player in Poeltl who had a great season last year. The best part for them is that they sent Kawhi to the Raptors which is probably one of the last places he wanted to be traded to. The trade worked out for the Spurs simply by getting Kawhi off their team and trading him to the East.
I love this deal for the Raptors. First of all, they’re getting one of the top players in the league in Kawhi Leonard which will tremendously help their team on both sides of the ball. Not only is Kawhi extremely efficient and a great offensive player, his defense, paired with some of the other guys on their team will make them one of the best defenses in the league. Raptors are able to add shooting with Danny Green and their new first option is a great 3-point shooter. Even if Kawhi doesn’t stay, they at least will be able to make a run at the Finals this year and have some playoff success. If he leaves, they have cap space which can be used to sign a big free agent next year or they can re-sign him if thy are able to sell him on their team. If all else fails, they can blow it up after this year and not have to worry about the long term deal with DeRozan. I had been saying all offseason that the Raptors needed to trade DeRozan and that he was the real problem on their team come playoff time. I feel bad it had to end this way with him getting betrayed by the front office but sadly, the NBA is a business and the Raptors made the right move.
Now that we know where Kawhi is going, here’s my Eastern Conference Standings prediction for next season:
1. Boston Celtics
2. Toronto Raptors
3. Indiana Pacers
4. Philadelphia 76ers
5. Milwaukee Bucks
6. Washington Wizards
7. Miami Heat
8. Cleveland Cavaliers