Kawhi Leonard’s Trade Demand Likely Cost Him $80 Million In Lost Salary

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After all the rumors and speculation dating back well before the start of the NBA offseason, a report from ESPN now suggests that Kawhi Leonard has finally been traded, with the San Antonio Spurs sending him and Danny Green to the Toronto Raptors for DeMar DeRozan, Jakob Poeltl, and a protected 2019 first-round pick. But as far as the financial implications of the trade are concerned, it would seem that Leonard might have cost himself more than $80 million by asking to be dealt elsewhere.

Shortly before news of Kawhi Leonard’s trade was first reported, Bleacher Report writer and NBA Math deputy editor Dan Favale tweeted a financial breakdown of what the deal could mean for the 27-year-old small forward, noting that he could have earned $221.3 million over five years had he agreed to a maximum contract extension with the Spurs.

Should he choose to remain in Toronto after his contract expires next summer, Leonard would earn $189.7 million, hinting at a loss of over $30 million. However, Favale took note of the strong possibility that Leonard would sign a free agent deal with the Los Angeles Lakers once his contract comes up next year, and added that the most the team could offer him would be $140.6 million over four years.

All told, Favale added, Leonard’s trade demands and desire to play for the Lakers could end up costing him one year and $80.7 million. He also made reference to Leonard’s uncle, Dennis Robertson, who has been blamed by many for the deterioration of Kawhi’s relationship with the San Antonio Spurs.

“Uncle Dennis, [what are you doing?]” Favale concluded.

Although Kawhi Leonard’s trade to the Raptors and possible move to the Lakers in 2019-20 could cost him a great deal of money, previous reports have suggested that the All-Star forward isn’t that keen on the prospect of getting the most lucrative deal. Last month, Sportsnaut cited a tweet from ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith, who said that Leonard was, at the time, so determined to leave the Spurs and join the Lakers that it didn’t matter that he’d be passing on the “super-max” contract San Antonio could give him.

“From what I am being told…he’s made it very, very clear that he’s looking to go to Los Angeles to play for the Lakers and he does not care about the $219 million super max he could sign.”

With Kawhi Leonard and DeMar DeRozan swapping teams for the 2018-19 season, Leonard could likely start at small forward for the Raptors, with Danny Green possibly competing with youngster OG Anunoby for another starting role. DeRozan, on the other hand, looks to be the Spurs’ starting shooting guard, while his fellow ex-Raptor, Jakob Poeltl, might compete with veteran Pau Gasol for minutes at the center position.