DeMar DeRozan has been loyal to Toronto.
He embraced the city when former stars abandoned it and pushed their way out of town. In 2016, as a free agent, he didn’t even meet with another team, he had no intention of leaving. He said he wanted to go down as the greatest Raptor ever. A Los Angeles kid himself — born and raised in Compton — he never pushed to go home, instead becoming incredibly active in the community off the court as well as being a four-time All-Star, two-time All-NBA player on it. He has led the greatest run of Raptors basketball in franchise history.
DeRozan reportedly hates the move and put this up as an Instagram story.
“Be told one thing & the outcome another. Can’t trust em. Ain’t no loyalty in this game. Sell you out quick for a little bit of nothing… Soon you’ll understand… Don’t disturb…”
It’s not the destination that has DeRozan unhappy, he did not want to be traded, period.
Leonard reportedly also is unhappy with the trade — he wanted to go home to Los Angeles. However, Lakers would not the players the Spurs wanted into a trade (Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma and more), and the Clippers do not have the assets to interest the Spurs in a trade. San Antonio was holding out for other bidders, biding their time, and in came Raptors’ GM Masai Ujiri with an aggressive move.
Leonard’s inexperienced management team, which did not handle this situation well, wanted him in a major market that would boost Leonard’s marketing opportunities. While Toronto is a big market — sixth largest in the NBA, bigger than Philadelphia — and is the team of a nation with fans across Canada, this is not what Leonard’s people wanted. He is a free agent next summer in 2019.
DeRozan has every right to feel betrayed — next time you think of complaining about how players are not loyal to cities/teams/fans, remember this. Loyalty is a luxury in the NBA and one rarely rewarded.
DeRozan also will come around and embrace San Antonio, the Spurs culture, and Gregg Popovich. He will help them win a lot.
Whether the Raptors can win over Leonard becomes one of the NBA’s biggest storylines of 2018-19.