The blockbuster trade sending DeMar DeRozan to the San Antonio Spurs for Kawhi Leonard isn’t going over too well for the Toronto Raptors.
Even before the details of the trade were finalized, rumors spread around the NBA that the players involved in the trade were not too happy about moving. A report from TNT’s David Aldridge claimed that DeRozan was extremely upset about the trade, saying that the Raptors lied to him about whether he could be traded. DeRozan was seen as one of the most loyal players in the NBA and was beloved by the city of Toronto, with some even suggesting after the trade that the team should build a statue in his honor.
And others across the league have quickly chimed in, including one friend of DeRozan who said the longtime Raptors star was “loyal to his city and got stabbed in the back.”
Lou Williams, who played with DeRozan on the Raptors in the 2014-15 season, took to Twitter to express his displeasure with the way the Raptors handled one of the most loyal players to the team.
Even NBA reporters seemed to have a hard time fathoming the trade, especially given recent reports that Leonard had no desire to play for the Raptors. Recent reports indicated that the San Antonio Spurs were fed up with the disgruntled big man and had no desire to keep him happy, which seemed to show in the trade that resulted.
Raptors beat writer Josh Lewenberg noted that no player has been as loyal to his team or his city as DeMar DeRozan, making the trade that much more puzzling.
No Raptors player has ever embraced the city of Toronto, country of Canada, or the organization like DeRozan. This is a business & sometimes tough/unpopular decisions have to be made, but hard to fathom losing him for a guy that (reportedly) has 0 interest in playing for the team— Josh Lewenberg (@JLew1050) July 18, 2018
And fellow players across the league have spoken up, supporting DeRozan amid the controversial trade.
No matter what...When I think of Toronto Raptors Basketball... I think of DeMar Derozan...He deserves a statue...????????♂️????????♂️????????????— DeMarre Carroll (@DeMarreCarroll1) July 18, 2018
I’m hurt bro. I’m hurt. My dog gave that city and organization his heart and soul. He was loyal to the soil and got stabbed in the back.— Lou Williams (@TeamLou23) July 18, 2018
But others have noted that the trade makes sense from a basketball perspective. The Toronto Raptors were able to snag the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference behind DeRozan but were unable to make it past the Cleveland Cavaliers, being swept in the second round of the playoffs. DeRozan struggled in the series, especially in Game 3 where he scored only eight points on 3-for-12 shooting. The Cavaliers won the game by two points and went on to sweep the series in a Game 4 blowout.
Kawhi Leonard will allow the Raptors to stay in the mix in an increasingly competitive Eastern Conference. With the departure of LeBron James for the Los Angeles Lakers, the conference is suddenly wide open and the move to land Leonard will allow the Toronto Raptors to keep pace with the Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers, two teams on the rise.