Leonard, DeRozan make moves
The Kawhi Leonard saga in San Antonio is over. So is DeMar DeRozan's time in Toronto.
An NBA summer blockbuster got pulled off yesterday, with the Spurs sending Leonard to the Raptors as part of a four-player deal that has DeRozan heading to San Antonio. The Spurs also got centre Jakob Poeltl and a 2019 protected first-round draft pick, while the Raptors acquired sharpshooter Danny Green.
For Leonard and the Spurs, there's finally closure to a relationship that seemed fractured beyond repair and played out like a soap opera as the season went along. But in the end, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich - insisting that looking back at what happened would not be worth his time, and that Leonard was a good team-mate throughout his tenure in San Antonio - simply said that he hopes the move works out for everyone involved.
"Kawhi, obviously, worked very hard to become the player he is," Popovich said in San Antonio, a couple of hours after the trade became official when the teams got approval on the terms from the NBA. "Our staff worked very hard to help him get there. We wish him all the best as he moves on to Toronto. I think he's going to be great."
Leonard was the 2014 NBA Finals MVP and had been with the Spurs for seven seasons, averaging 16.3 points, though was limited to just nine games last season because of a leg injury.
DeRozan has been in the league for nine years, all of them with Toronto, and is a career 19.7 point-per-game scorer.
DeRozan has led the Raptors in scoring in each of the last five seasons. He was key to Toronto winning 59 games and securing the No. 1 seed for the Eastern Conference playoffs last season. But after getting swept in the second round by Cleveland, the Raptors decided massive changes were necessary - first the firing of coach of the year Dwane Casey, and now the trading of a perennial All-Star who once famously declared "I am Toronto."
DeRozan's initial reaction seemed to be one of anger and frustration.
"Ain't no loyalty in this game," DeRozan wrote in an Instagram story that appeared in the wee hours of Wednesday.