Kawhi Leonard trade rumors to the Toronto Raptors have heated up thanks, in part, to Vegas. According to OddsShark, the Raptors are now tied with the Spurs as the favorites to have Leonard playing on their team next season. The Washington Post’s Tim Bontemps also reported the Raptors are on of the contenders to trade for Leonard.
The Toronto Raptors also generated buzz as a potential destination for Leonard. With LeBron James out of the Eastern Conference, perhaps Raptors President of Basketball Operations Masai Ujiri is willing to swing for the fences and move DeMar DeRozan or Kyle Lowry in such a deal.
DeRozan would be the most attractive option on the Raptors roster for the Spurs. San Antonio would also have to throw in another player to make the salaries work. Danny Green is one option that would allow the teams to make a deal. The big question is whether the Raptors would be willing to part with DeRozan for potentially a one-year rental on Leonard. Toronto has been in a rut during the playoffs, despite consistently having very good regular season performances.
Let’s take a look at what the Raptors roster and projected starting lineup could look like if the Raptors traded for Leonard.
We will include DeRozan in the current roster at this moment if the Raptors do find a way to hold onto one part of their star back court.
Toronto Raptors Roster & Projected Starting Lineup With Kawhi Leonard for 2018-19
C- Jonas Valanciunas, Jakob Poeltl
PF- OG Anunoby, Serge Ibaka, Pascal Siakam
SF- Kawhi Leonard, C.J. Miles, Norman Powell, Malachi Richardson
SG- DeMar DeRozan, Delon Wright
PG- Kyle Lowry, Fred VanVleet, Lorenzo Brown
This is just a projected lineup as other things could happen before the tip-off of the season because of other trades, signings, etc. One thing is for certain and that’s that the Raptors would continue to be a threat in the Eastern Conference, especially after the departure of LeBron James to the Western Conference.
Pros and Cons of Trading For Kawhi Leonard
The obvious pro of trading for a player like Kawhi Leonard is it instantly puts any team into contention. When healthy, Leonard is arguably a top 5 player in the league. Unfortunately, it has been a while since we have last seen a healthy Kawhi Leonard.
By trading for Kawhi, the Raptors would be taking a big risk on his health and the ability to keep this from being just a one-year rental. If the Raptors do have to give up some talent, such as DeRozan and some young players, it would make more sense to do that with some indication Leonard would sign with the Raptors long-term.
Bleacher Report suggests the Raptors would almost certainly have to send over DeRozan in a trade.
The likeliest potential trade package would send DeMar DeRozan, OG Anunoby and Jakob Poeltl (along with a pick) to San Antonio for Leonard and salary filler (likely Danny Green). Toronto would arguably become Eastern Conference favorites with that move while also sacrificing at least two promising young pieces in Anunoby and Poeltl.
Ever since the news has come out that Leonard wants out of San Antonio, the Lakers have been considered his top destination. By being traded to Toronto, Leonard would miss out on the LA lights this season but will have the ability to go there next year on his own.
The situation feels similar to how Paul George to the Thunder felt last year and look how that turned out for the Thunder. The Raptors might be able to sell Leonard on their culture and keep him there long-term.