Raptors acquire Kawhi Leonard from Spurs for DeMar DeRozan

22 Comments

UPDATE: It’s official, Kawhi Leonard may want to go purchase a couple really heavy winter coats, because he is headed to Toronto. The deal has been approved by the league and announced by the teams.

After another rough playoff exit at the hands of LeBron James, Raptors’ GM Masai Ujiri wanted to shake things up in Toronto this offseason. To change the culture. To make a push for a ring since the LeBron wall went West. The status quo was no longer good enough for the Toronto decision maker.

He did that in the most dramatic way possible.

In maybe the biggest move of the summer, the Raptors have acquired Kawhi Leonard from the San Antonio Spurs.

Adrian Wojnarowski and Chris Haynes of ESPN broke the story:

The Toronto Raptors are finalizing a deal to acquire San Antonio Spurs star Kawhi Leonard in a trade package that includes All-Star DeMar DeRozan, league sources told ESPN….

Leonard and DeRozan are both aware that an agreement could be imminent, and neither is expressing enthusiasm for the deal, league sources said.

DeRozan basically confirmed the trade before it became official — and his displeasure with it. DeRozan had been loyal to Toronto wanted to go down as the greatest Raptor ever. He embraced that city when others stars had bolted it, In an Instagram story, he vented (the Raptors reportedly told DeRozan during Summer League he would not be traded, despite rumors).

Leonard and DeRozan could not be traded for each other straight up (DeRozan makes $4 million more than Leonard, once Leonard’s trade kicker of $3 million is counted in), in the end the deal looked like this:

On paper, the trade makes sense for both sides. The Raptors take a shot at a ring and winning Leonard over to their team, if that fails and he bolts they start a rebuild (they also didn’t give up young players they really like such as OG Anunoby and Pascal Siakam). This is a win for the Raptors.

The Spurs remain competitive for the next two or three years, likely as long as Gregg Popovich will coach, then they will rebuild.

The Spurs did not want to send Leonard to the West and the Lakers, and they wanted a star player who would keep them relevant and in the playoffs as part of the deal. DeRozan does that (while the Lakers and Sixers would not throw in key pieces such as Brandon Ingram or Markelle Fultz). Paired with LaMarcus Aldridge, Dejounte Murray, and the always solid role-playing core with the Spurs, they are in the playoff mix in the middle of a brutal West. DeRozan has two seasons guaranteed at $27.7 million, with a player option for a third season after that.

Leonard is a free agent in the summer of 2019 and can then sign anywhere he wants. That has reportedly been Los Angeles, although in Las Vegas I heard rumors from sources that both the Lakers and Clippers are in play to land him.

The Raptors will have this season to win Leonard over and get him to re-sign — just as Oklahoma City did with Paul George. Toronto is a fantastic city, it has a passionate fan base, and the team is poised to win a lot. Toronto also has more money: with the trade Toronto can offer Leonard a five-year, $189.6 million contract next summer, the most any other team can put on the table is a four-year, $140.6 million offer. Leonard, it should be noted, walked away from a $221 million offer should he have worked things out with the Spurs. George was open to the Oklahoma City experience, will Leonard be in Toronto? (Also, the Raptors can trade him again at the deadline.)

If Leonard is fully healthy — something nobody really knows for sure — the Raptors would be contenders in the East, they have arguably the best player in the conference now (him or Giannis Antetokounmpo). This team is a threat to favorite Boston as well as Philadelphia.

Report: Spurs re-signing Davis Bertans (for two years, $14.5 million) and Bryn Forbes

Ronald Cortes/Getty Images
Leave a comment

The Spurs declined to match Kyle Anderson‘s four-year, $37 million offer sheet from the Grizzlies.

But San Antonio is keeping its other restricted free agents – Davis Bertans (though not for the initially reported terms) and Bryn Forbes.

Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:

This is a higher annual salary, but shorter contract length, than the four years and $20 million previously reported for Bertans. I wouldn’t be surprised if both structures were seriously discussed, but I prefer this one – which has become official – for the Spurs. They’re capped out this season already and fairly limited next summer, anyway. San Antonio is paying more in the short term for more long-term flexibility with the 25-year-old stretch four.

Forbes played more than 1,500 minutes for a 47-win team last season, quite the accomplishment for someone who went undrafted a couple years ago – and a tribute to the team and coaching around him. He’s a good 3-point shooter who can’t get open for enough attempts from beyond the arc and therefore settles for too many long jumpers.

Forbes had a one-year qualifying offer worth $200,000 more than the minimum. I wouldn’t be surprised if he parlayed that into a two-year guaranteed minimum.

He’ll join Danny Green, Marco Belinelli, Manu Ginobili and Lonnie Walker at shooting guard. That’s a crowd, so expect some three-guard lineups – especially if Leonard gets dealt.

Report: Marco Belinelli returning to Spurs on two-year, $12 million contract

AP Photo/Eric Gay
5 Comments

As Kawhi Leonard has thrown the Spurs into crisis, they’re coping with comfort.

Continuing a trend from last summer, San Antonio is showing how much it values continuity. The Spurs have already agreed to re-sign Rudy Gay, and they’ll also bring back Marco Belinelli, who helped them win the 2014 title.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

At 32, Belinelli remains a dangerous 3-point shooter. His defense is lacking, though.

San Antonio’s depth chart at shooting guard is getting crowded – Danny Green, Manu Ginobili, Lonnie Walker and now Belinelli. Considering how much Gregg Popovich values resting veterans, maybe that will work out just fine.

The 76ers have now lost both their big midseason acquisitions, Belinelli and Ersan Ilyasova (who also returned to a prior team, the Bucks). Philadelphia will need to find shooting, which could include but shouldn’t be limited to re-signing J.J. Redick.

Report: Spurs Danny Green opts-in, stay with Spurs next season

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Danny Green saw his role shift a lot with Kawhi Leonard out basically all season. He spent a lot more time at the three and defending the other team’s best perimeter offensive player (not sharing that duty with Leonard), and he held up well on that end, but he played seemingly out of position. Offensively, his game slipped. He shot 36.6 percent from three and his true shooting percentage of 50.9 was well below the league average.  Certainly, some of that was due to the lack of Leonard — so teams didn’t help off Green the same way, plus Green was now the third option — but he seemed to take a step back as well.

Combine that season with a tight free agent market, and Green may well have not seen the $10 million he is under contract for with a player option. So, he is opting in, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

It’s the smart move by Green. Next season there will be a lot more teams with cap space to spend, if he bounces back (he just turned 31) he can get a bigger payday.

This is also good for the Spurs, whatever their team looks like next season. Professional leadership in the locker room will always matter. Plus, he could be a good trading chip at the deadline.

Report: Kawhi Leonard nearing full health

4 Comments

The Spurs and Kawhi Leonard must repair their broken relationship before they offer him a super-max contract extension.

Danny Green said Leonard is committed to doing that. San Antonio reportedly has its doubts.

Whether the Spurs keep or trade Leonard, a big question for San Antonio and teams interested in him: Will he be healthy for next season?

Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:

He’ll be ready. He’s already, I think, close to 100 percent. He’ll be fine going into the year.

Leonard’s quad injury has been so confounding. Gregg Popovich said in February that Leonard wouldn’t miss the rest of the season. In early March, Leonard said he’d return “soon” Yet, the Spurs played until late April without him returning.

So, I’m mostly in believe-it-when-I-see-it-mode.

Even once Leonard becomes fully healthy, another, more complex question will still loom: How susceptible is Leonard to future injuries?

San Antonio will evaluate that before offering an extension. So will other teams before making trade offers.