Kawhi Leonard’s name has been nothing but drama over the past 24 hours. Late last night, the Toronto Raptors and San Antonio Spurs picked up discussions regarding a trade for the star small forward. In just a matter of hours, the two teams agreed on a blockbuster deal that sent Leonard and Danny Green to the Raptors with DeMar DeRozan, Jakob Poeltl, and a 2019 protected first-round pick going to San Antonio.
It was a move that shook the entire landscape of the NBA. In addition to that, however, it was also a move that brought a lot more drama with it.
Soon after the trade was agreed to, reports began coming out that Leonard did not want to play for the Raptors. After demanding a trade from the Spurs, Leonard was simply unhappy with the team that decided to acquire him.
Since then, however, things seem to be looking up for the relationship between Leonard and the Raptors.
According to a report shared by Bleacher Report, Leonard is “warming up” to the idea of playing for the Raptors. He may not love it yet, but he is likely intrigued by the situation that he is heading into.
Last season with the Spurs, unrest between the franchise and Leonard came out to the public. Leonard missed most of the season due to injury issues, but the Spurs felt that he could have played. Public comments were made by both Gregg Popovich and Tony Parker, which angered Leonard and started the trade demand situation.
Official: We've acquired Kawhi Leonard & Danny Green from the San Antonio Spurs for DeMar DeRozan, Jakob Poeltl & a 2019 protected first-round draft pick.— Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) July 18, 2018
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Leonard only ended up playing in nine regular season games for the Spurs last season. In those appearances, he averaged just 16.2 points per game to go along with 4.7 rebounds, 2.3 assists, and 2.0 steals per game.
Toronto is getting one of the top two-way players in the NBA if he buys in to what they’re trying to do. They also have a solid core around him in Kyle Lowry, Serge Ibaka, Jonas Valanciunas, OG Anunoby, and more. Looking ahead at the Eastern Conference, the Raptors are going to be a force to be reckoned with.
At this point in time, Leonard is not expected to re-sign with the Raptors next offseason in free agency. He is expected to leave town and head to Los Angeles to join LeBron James and the Lakers.
No matter what happens next offseason, Toronto got a lot better for the 2018-19 NBA season. It may not last long, but having Leonard in town is going to be a great fit for both parties involved, as long as they learn to work with each other.
Expect to see Leonard get over his frustration and do his best to lead the Raptors on a deep playoff run this season.