Quick 2 Cents on Raptors Trading for Kawhi Leonard

The Raptors and Spurs are expected to make a trade call today regarding a deal centered around swapping Kawhi Leonard and DeMar DeRozan.

It’s a bold move for Toronto, one that could turn catastrophic if Leonard leaves Toronto after just one season. But with the Raptors’ potential as a team essentially capped out, it was a move Toronto had to make.

We’ve seen this situation before.

An All-NBA player with one year left on his deal (Paul George) tells his team that he wants to play for the Lakers.

The player is traded to a team not of his choosing (OKC), and a season-long recruitment period begins.

The Thunder ended up getting George to re-sign despite OKC not being on his radar a year earlier. Toronto is hoping for the same result with Kawhi.

Toronto is not a top free-agent destination for many reasons—being north of the border prime among them. The chances of signing an elite talent like Leonard would seem all but impossible in free agency.

Rather than going the rebuild route, Raptors GM Masai Ujiri is going all in. The price to get Leonard was high. But it was a necessary gamble.