The Kawhi Leonard trade is one of the weirdest ordeals in NBA History.
Chew on this for a second:
On one side, there’s Kawhi Leonard, a guy who was 100% completely and utterly finished playing for the Spurs and had his eyes set on Los Angeles. He threw loyalty out the window after he lost faith in the team. On the other side, there was DeMar DeRozan, who literally stated publicly how much he loved the Raptors, the city of Toronto, and all of his talented teammates. He couldn’t have been more loyal to a franchise that has been largely irrelevant for most of their existence.
Weirdly enough, they both got traded for each other, and now (for the first time I can remember) neither player is particularly thrilled about it. Although, there’s more to this sob-story than hurt feelings.
There’s something else that makes this whole thing even more cringe-worthy.
While DeRozan is sure to enjoy the money he’s made in his lucrative NBA career so far, he actually took a $14 million pay-cut back in 2016 (when he was a free-agent), so that the Raptors could have more cap-flexibility in the future. He sacrificed to give the team a better chance to win, something most stars find it hard to do these days.
Not only did the franchise fail in surrounding DeRozan with a true Championship contending team, but they traded him away two years later for a guy who probably won’t stay for more than a year anyway.
Did the Toronto Raptors make the right decision here? No matter how your emotions are swaying right now, it’s still way too early to answer that question. One thing we do know for sure is that sometimes, life stings. In this case, it hurt DeRozan both physically and financially.