After being swept by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference semis, rumors and speculations started to swirl that the Toronto Raptors are planning to make a huge overhaul on their roster. The Raptors are reportedly willing to move any player on the team, even DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry, if the right deal comes along. Recently, the Raptors are being linked to Kawhi Leonard of the San Antonio Spurs.
With limited trade assets, the only way the Raptors can convince the Spurs to send Kawhi Leonard to Toronto is by sacrificing either DeMar DeRozan or Kyle Lowry. Jordan Greer of Sporting News suggested that the Raptors could offer a trade package including DeRozan, OG Anunoby, and Pascal Siakam to the Spurs for Leonard and Rudy Gay. Since Gay just signed a new contract in San Antonio, the Spurs and the Raptors will need to wait for three months before proceeding with the proposed trade deal.
“Toronto wasn’t on the radar when the offseason began, but the Raptors have ‘generated buzz’ around the league when it comes to potential destinations for Leonard. With LeBron no longer presenting a playoff roadblock, the Raptors seize the moment by shaking up the East and going for the Finals. The Spurs find an All-Star guard and a couple intriguing young forwards for Popovich to develop. And the most important part… the tribute video for Gay’s incredible contributions as a Raptor!”
— Yahoo Sports NBA (@YahooSportsNBA) July 13, 2018
With their goal to fully dominate the LeBron James-less Eastern Conference next season, trading DeMar DeRozan for Kawhi Leonard makes a lot of sense for the Raptors, especially if the 27-year-old small forward proves that he is already 100 percent recovered from the quad injury. When healthy, there is no doubt that Leonard is a better NBA player than DeRozan on both ends of the floor. The Raptors would be receiving a new superstar who can accurately hit shots from beyond the arc.
However, the suggested trade is also a huge gamble for the Raptors since Kawhi Leonard could only be a one-year rental. When the 2018 NBA offseason started, Leonard demanded a trade from the Spurs and said that he preferred to be traded to the Los Angeles Lakers. At first, the Spurs were hesitant to engage in a trade negotiation with the Lakers and other Western Conference teams.
But the disgruntled superstar informed all NBA teams who expressed interest in trading for him that he will sign with the Lakers when he becomes an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2019. Though Leonard will undeniably make the Raptors better next season, they should think twice before parting ways with any of their superstars.