San Antonio Spurs, Toronto Raptors finalizing deal involving Kawhi Leonard, DeMar DeRozan

Tonya Becker
July 19, 2018

Leonard and his agents let it be known that Leonard wanted to be traded to Los Angeles, and he owns some leverage there - Leonard can be a free agent next summer, and he could simply sign with the Lakers, who have cap space available, in 12 months.

With all that said, Leonard is still sending signals he wants to be a Laker.

But ESPN reporter Chris Haynes revealed that Leonard has no desire to play in Toronto, where he is widely expected to play just one year before returning to his long-favoured destination of Southern California. Our staff worked very hard to help him get there.

DeRozan's immediate reaction - after reportedly being informed during a meeting with team brass at Vegas Summer League he would not be traded - was not positive.

After weeks of speculation that tied the Lakers to the two-time All-Star, that largely subsided as the 2018 NBA Draft came and went and free agency began. "We wish him well, but at this point, it's time to move on", Pop said.

The details of the trade were still being worked out early Wednesday, but centered on Leonard and DeRozan.

Leonard played in only nine games for the Spurs last season, missing the first 27 games of the campaign with a right quadriceps injury, then suffering a left shoulder injury. That could both be a factor in Leonard not having interest in joining them and the Raptors' desire to once and for all break up the core that's been led by DeRozan and Kyle Lowry.

Leonard isn't thrilled either, with Toronto about as far away from Los Angeles as one can get in National Basketball Association circles. The team also boasts recent No. 2 picks Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram, although both could conceivably be traded to add more veteran players around James.

Some have questioned the Lakers' tactics given that it means James' hopes of adding another ring to his collection this season is all but dependent on him himself, having near single-handedly carried the Cleveland Cavaliers to the Finals past year. Gregg Popovich will make him better because great coaches do that. "It's a gamble, but Toronto is probably at the point where, 'We've probably only got one more run with this team anyhow so let's mix it up.' And if they have to rebuild or retool, they could do it without the [$83] million they owe DeRozan".

They'll certainly hope that with LeBron James now departing the east, the addition of Leonard will boost their hopes of reaching the NBA Finals next season.

And Leonard isn't the only party upset with the reported trade.

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