It finally happened! Kawhi Leonard has been traded from the Spurs, and it happened while everyone was sleeping. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Chris Haynes broke the news at 4:23 a.m ET.
Toronto is close to a deal to acquire Spurs All-Star Kawhi Leonard, league sources tell @ChrisBHaynes and me. Trade package includes DeMar DeRozan, league sources tell ESPN.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) July 18, 2018
Let’s dive into the details of the trade, and grades and analysis for each side:
Toronto Raptors Receive:
- Kawhi Leonard
- Danny Green
Analysis: This is absolute wizardry by Raptors GM Masai Ujiri. First of all, you trade for Kawhi Leonard, who’s a consensus top-7 player in the NBA when healthy. His defensive game is top-3 in the league if not higher. I understand that Kawhi Leonard is only a one year rental for now. However, the Raptors know that this is their window to win, and it wasn’t working with the team they had before. They needed to make a change, and this was certainly not a bad one to make. In addition, remember what happened with Paul George. Everyone needs to remember that he was apparently a lock to go to the Lakers this summer, and a “one-year rental,” but he was sold on OKC in one year and re-signed long-term. The same thing can happen with Kawhi Leonard, and Masai Ujiri is banking on that.
In addition to getting Kawhi Leonard, the Raptors also got Danny Green to play shooting guard. Green is a solid ‘Three-and-D’ player and will fit well into that Raptors lineup. Furthermore, put aside the personal part of this trade with DeRozan (Toronto told him he wouldn’t be traded last week), and think about the money also. DeMar DeRozan was set to make $27 million per year through 2020-21, so this deal gets him off the books as well. If Kawhi Leonard doesn’t re-sign, then Toronto will still have a ton of cap space to sign marquee free agents in next year’s stacked free agent class. Only giving away Poetl and a highly protected first round pick with DeRozan to do all of this is a huge win for the Raptors. Masai Ujiri gets a round of applause for this one.
San Antonio Spurs Receive:
- DeMar DeRozan
- Jakob Poetl
- 2019 First Round Pick (Protected 1-20, if between 1-20 it turns into 2 second rounders)
This is one of those trades that I think both teams won. Put yourself in the Spurs shoes. It’s clear that the Lakers and 76ers refused to give up much for Kawhi, so the Spurs took the next best option: getting an established star in DeMar DeRozan. DeMar DeRozan is a top-20 player in this league, and that’s no secret. He’s a high volume scorer, a four-time all-star, and a guy that I’m sure Gregg Popovich can possibly even get to another level. He’s still only 28 years old. Poetl is also young player who has some upside. Remember, Kawhi Leonard’s injury and the fact that he’s a free agent after next season tremendously decreased his trade value. You weren’t going to get more for Leonard. With DeRozan on the team now, you essentially forgo a full rebuild and become a team that’s definitely going to be in the playoffs this year, and in years to come. It’s a good move for the Spurs, and probably the best they could have done.