The Toronto Raptors struck a trade with the San Antonio Spurs involving Kawhi Leonard which proved to be the biggest move of the previous NBA offseason. With the Raptors now representing the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals, there’s little argument that the deal wound up pushing them to the level of other top-tier teams.
If Toronto is able to keep Leonard during 2019 free agency, their deal with the Spurs winds up as an even bigger win than it already is. When looking back at the trade, both sides picked up talented players, but the Raptors are the unquestionable winners at this point, something that most would argue isn’t even up for debate.
Toronto Raptors Trade for Kawhi Leonard: Terms & Details
The deal involving Leonard shook the NBA landscape quite a bit during the 2018 offseason, as it added even more firepower to the Eastern Conference. As the NBA revealed at the time, the deal was centered around Leonard heading to the Raptors in exchange for DeMar DeRozan, who had spent his entire career to that point in Toronto.
- Raptors receive: Kawhi Leonard, Danny Green
- Spurs receive: DeMar DeRozan, Jakob Poeltl, 2019 protected first-round pick
The deal moved Leonard out of the Western Conference, something the Spurs appeared to have an interest in making sure was the case at the time. Obviously, the Raptors have to be thrilled with the outcome, as they’ve made it to their first-ever NBA Finals, setting up a date with the Golden State Warriors.
Spurs’ Gregg Popovich Sends Kawhi Leonard off With Class
Although the trade had to be tough for Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, who had watched Leonard grow as a player, there was little question that a deal had to be done. As the NBA cited after the trade, Popovich praised Leonard and wished him well, but spoke about his excitement in acquiring DeRozan.
“We wish him well as he moves into Toronto. I think he’ll be great,” Popovich said. “I think this trade is going to work out great for both teams. We wish [Leonard] well, but at this point it’s time to move on. It’s time to move on.
“Kawhi is not going to stop being a great player. But we’re thrilled with DeMar. … To get back a proven NBA player and a proven All-Star, we have to be thrilled.”
Leonard has put together a career year with the Raptors, averaging 26.6 points, 7.3 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.8 steals while shooting 49.6 percent from the field during the regular season. He averaged a career-high 34.0 minutes per game as well and took over as a clear-cut leader in Toronto.
As for DeRozan, he put together his second-best season in terms of shooting percentage, knocking down 48.1 percent from the field. Two areas where DeRozan thrived and posted career-high marks were average assists (6.2) and rebounds (6.0) per game. For good measure, he also averaged 21.2 points per game.