The Kawhi Leonard trade saga is still raging as the NBA offseason continues, and in recent days, the Toronto Raptors have frequently been mentioned as the new favorites to acquire the services of the talented San Antonio Spurs small forward. While there have been a few trade proposals suggested by pundits since the rumors first began, a new report posits that a swap of superstars where the Spurs could end up with DeMar DeRozan or Kyle Lowry won’t benefit either one of the two teams involved.
In a report published on Sunday by the Sporting News, Sean Deveney wrote that trading Leonard to the Raptors for DeRozan or Lowry and younger Toronto players such as OG Anunoby, Jakob Poeltl, Pascal Siakam, and/or Delon Wright would be an example of a “nuclear trade,” or a transaction that’s worse than a lose-lose situation because both teams “wind up hobbled” in the long run. While Deveney acknowledged that Toronto has two tradable All-Stars, several young players who could be assets to a trade partner, and the “right level of desperation” after the Cleveland Cavaliers swept them in this year’s playoffs, he added that Leonard probably wouldn’t be happy to be playing for a team that isn’t the Los Angeles Lakers.
“If there’s been anything we learned about Leonard that we did not already know in the past year, it is how incredibly stubborn the man can be. He stuck with that quad injury and allowed it to keep him out for 73 games, plus the entire postseason. He dumped an entire year of his career just to get out of San Antonio. But he’s suddenly going to turn into a happy Raptor? Uh, no.”
Aside from the possibility that Kawhi Leonard won’t be glad if traded to Toronto, Deveney wrote that moving him to the Raptors might only be good for a guaranteed top-three seeding in the Eastern Conference, as the Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers are still the top favorites to take top seeding in 2018-19. Furthermore, he added that Leonard may end up as a one-year rental for the Raptors, with his theoretical departure leading to a “long, cold” three or four seasons after he enters free agency in 2019.
Talking about the Spurs’ prospects if they send Leonard to Toronto and get Kyle Lowry or DeMar DeRozan in return, the Sporting News’ Deveney opined that DeRozan, in particular, might not be a good fit for Spurs coach Gregg Popovich’s system due to his long-running weakness as a three-point shooter. While he averaged 23 points per game for the Raptors in 2017-18, DeRozan shot only 31.2 percent from beyond the arc, a figure that dropped to 28.6 percent in the postseason.
“The team needs draft picks and a player or two to develop, and the only real shot at getting that will come in a deal with the Lakers — heck with what conference they’re in or whether the Spurs brain trust finds L.A. historically objectionable,” Deveney concluded.
Interestingly, Deveney’s report came just a few days after another Sporting News writer, Jordan Greer, proposed a deal where Kawhi Leonard and Rudy Gay would be traded for DeMar DeRozan, OG Anunoby, and Pascal Siakam. As noted by the Inquisitr, the theoretical trade would only take place about three months from now, on account of Gay, a former 20-point-per-game scorer who played a reserve role for San Antonio in 2017-18, having recently re-signed with the Spurs.