Weeks of rumors and proposed trade packages appear to be boiling down to a deal that would have the San Antonio Spurs’ Kawhi Leonard and the Toronto Raptors’ DeMar DeRozan swapping teams. While reports suggest that an agreement between both teams could be finalized “in principle” as soon as Wednesday, it also seems that neither superstar is happy about the newly rumored arrangement.
According to a report from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Chris Haynes, the Spurs and the Raptors have both been discussing possible trade scenarios for the past few weeks, with “several incarnations” of packages proposed by both sides. Although the report suggested that a deal could be imminent, Wojnarowski and Haynes added that neither Leonard nor DeRozan has “[expressed] enthusiasm” for the deal.
While talks of a Kawhi Leonard for DeMar DeRozan or Kyle Lowry trade have swirled incessantly in recent days, with reports pointing to the Raptors as the top candidate to acquire the talented Spurs forward, it’s also been well-documented that Leonard, 27, would prefer a trade to the hometown Los Angeles Lakers. However, more recent reports, including one from Silver Screen and Roll that cited information from Wojnarowski and his ESPN colleague Ramona Shelburne, have suggested that the Lakers are “playing the long game” and waiting instead to sign him as a free agent in the 2019 offseason.
Meanwhile, sources close to DeRozan told ESPN’s Haynes that the Raptors star met with team officials during the NBA’s summer league tournament in Las Vegas and was informed that he wouldn’t be shipped off to another team. This reportedly prompted the 28-year-old shooting guard to post an Instagram story where he ranted about the lack of loyalty in today’s NBA and accused the Raptors of lying to him.
“Be told one thing & outcome another. Can’t trust em. Ain’t no loyalty in this game. Sell you out quit for a little bit of nothing…soon you’ll understand… Don’t disturb…”
Talking about Kawhi Leonard and DeMar DeRozan’s future prospects after the potential trade, ESPN wrote that Toronto Raptors president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri is “taking a significant risk” in trading for Leonard in the last year of his contract and hoping that he could re-sign the two-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year to a five-year, $190 million contract in the summer of 2019.
Should Leonard choose to play elsewhere in the 2019-20 season, he would only be able to sign a four-year, $141 million deal with a team that could afford his services. Per Hoops Hype, the Lakers freed up enough space for two maximum contracts in February when they traded Larry Nance Jr. and Jordan Clarkson to the Cleveland Cavaliers for Isaiah Thomas and Channing Frye and their expiring deals. As the Lakers used one of those max contracts on LeBron James earlier this month, that could leave enough room for them to sign Leonard to a similarly lucrative deal if he still wants to play for his hometown team in 2019-20.
As for DeRozan, he stands to be paid $83 million for the remaining three years of his contract, though he has an early termination option in the final year, as further noted by ESPN.