Published: Thu, July 19, 2018
Culture | By Wayne Carr

DeMar DeRozan and Kawhi Leonard both seem pissed about the trade

DeMar DeRozan and Kawhi Leonard both seem pissed about the trade

Executive Masai Ujiri is moving forward with the trade with the determination to convince Leonard to resign with the Raptors when he becomes a free agent next summer. Leonard may not want to stay - or even show up.

ESPN reports that the Spurs want an All-Star caliber player, high-potential young players and draft assets in any Leonard deal. Our staff worked very hard to help him get there. Leonard is the big name in the trade, but he isn't the only star on the move.

"Be told one thing & the outcome another", DeRozan wrote on Instagram early Wednesday after reports of the then-pending deal reached fever intensity. It's a gamble for both teams, but much more for the Raptors: Leonard, who grew up in Southern California, has repeatedly been linked to a desire to play for the Los Angeles Lakers.

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Towards the end of their time together in San Antonio, Leonard and Popovich's relationship became so strained that everyone sort of knew that their one-on-one meeting in the summer wasn't going to fix something that was well beyond repair. This marks the second major move of the off-season for the Raptors as Toronto fired Coach of the Year Dwane Casey.

DeRozan's immediate reaction - after reportedly being informed during a meeting with team brass at Vegas Summer League he would not be traded - was not positive.

Leonard spent his first seven seasons in the National Basketball Association with the Spurs, appearing in a total of 407 games and averaging 16.3 points, 6.2 rebounds and 2.3 assists. If the Raptors are intent on keeping Serge Ibaka in the lineup, they could experiment with Leonard playing the two.

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As examples, no Blazers package includes Damian Lillard or C.J. McCollum, league sources said. The pairing of James and Leonard in Los Angeles could be the NBA's best chance at challenging coach Steve Kerr's Warriors for the Larry O'Brien Trophy. His acquisition elevates the Raptors into the same conversation with the Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers atop the Eastern Conference, and gives Toronto a true superstar around whom to build its roster. He played in nine games for the Spurs last season and was barely a factor.

The Raptors will have this season to win Leonard over and get him to re-sign - just as Oklahoma City did with Paul George. Then they added Danny Green, so they got some experience, some winning but both guys are on the a year ago of their deals.

They thought he would be ready to start last season. Paired with LaMarcus Aldridge, Dejounte Murray, and the always solid role-playing core with the Spurs, they are in the playoff mix in the middle of a brutal West. DeRozan has two seasons guaranteed at $27.7 million, with a player option for a third season after that.

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