When the Toronto Raptors struck a trade with the San Antonio Spurs for Kawhi Leonard, there was a mixture of emotions across the league. From supporters of the Raptors, it was obvious excitement, but for general NBA fans, there was quite a bit of confusion. After all, it didn’t appear likely that Leonard would sign with Toronto long term.
While that may or may not prove true, one thing we know for sure at this point is that the Raptors made a great decision to swing a deal for the star forward. They’ve made a run to the NBA Finals behind Leonard’s superb play, and there are rumblings that he could re-sign with the team this offseason.
Looking back at the trade, it’s hard to find any way that the Spurs were going to get equal value for Leonard. At the very least, though, they did receive a talented player in DeMar DeRozan, who was a centerpiece of the deal for Gregg Popovich’s team.
Kawhi Leonard Trade to Raptors: Spurs Receive DeMar DeRozan
Among the multiple pieces which the Spurs received as a part of the Leonard deal, DeRozan, a four-time All-Star appeared to be a key focus point for the team. As the NBA revealed, Popovich spoke about the deal shortly after and while he had high praise for Leonard, he was open about the excitement of adding DeRozan.
“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.” Popovich said.
DeRozan spent his entire career before the trade with the Raptors after they selected him with the No. 9 pick in the 2009 NBA Draft. Over his nine seasons in Toronto, the 6-foot-7 guard averaged 19.7 points, 4.1 rebounds and 3.1 assists while shooting 44.8 percent in 675 total games.
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Raptors-Spurs Kawhi Leonard Trade Details & Terms
There were numerous teams believed to be in the mix for a potential Leonard trade, but the Raptors’ offer was apparently too much for the Spurs to turn down. It featured DeRozan, young big man Jakob Poeltl and a protected 2019 first-round pick, as the NBA revealed.
While the Raptors received Leonard in exchange for the haul, they also added shooting guard Danny Green.
- Raptors receive: Kawhi Leonard, Danny Green
- Spurs receive: DeMar DeRozan, Jakob Poeltl, 2019 protected first-round pick
DeRozan had a strong year with the Spurs, but Leonard is the headliner for obvious reasons. Toronto’s new leader had 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.
With Toronto currently holding the edge as the big winner of the trade, how Leonard’s free agency shakes out will be a major talking point. If he were to sign with Raptors long term, it locks up the “win” in this deal, although the Spurs seemed to have virtually no choice but to trade Leonard last offseason.