Leonard and his agents let it be known that Leonard wanted to be traded to Los Angeles, and he owns some leverage there - Leonard can be a free agent next summer, and he could simply sign with the Lakers, who have cap space available, in 12 months. They're hopeful, too, that Leonard can be sold on the benefits of playing for Canada's team. "Kawhi obviously worked very hard to become the player he is".
In a story posted on his Instagram page Wednesday morning, DeRozan wrote, "Be told one thing & the outcome another".
The trade culminates what has been a monthslong standoff between Leonard, his camp and San Antonio, one that has seen the typically drama-free Spurs become a three-ring circus for the first time in more than two decades.
Earlier this month, superstar LeBron James chose to sign in free agency with the Lakers. Considering that Toronto traded an All-Star guard for him in DeRozan, this is a risky move.
Leonard reportedly doesn't want to go to Toronto and DeRozan doesn't want to leave Toronto - although he ripped Raptors management for a betrayal, so all his warm and fuzzy feelings likely have gone south from The North. Since making his first of his four career All-Star berths in 2013-14, DeRozan has averaged 23.4 points, 4.5 rebounds and 4.2 assists per game in that span.
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The holding player appearing in 133 Serie A games for Napoli during a four-year spell, and has also been capped for Italy . Can they compete with the likes of Manchester City and Manchester United?
The Raptors would nearly certainly need another 50+-win season and a deep playoff run if they want to convince Leonard to stay. The team also boasts recent No. 2 picks Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram, although both could conceivably be traded to add more veteran players around James.
PLAYED THROUGH TRAGEDY - Leonard was a junior at Martin Luther King High School in the Riverside neighbourhood of Los Angeles when his father was fatally shot at the auto wash he owned in Compton on January 18, 2008.
While Paul George did stay with the Oklahoma City Thunder, it is hard to imagine Leonard would do the same with the Toronto. At the NBA Finals, where much of the chatter was dominated by the potential homes of James (and Leonard), there was nearly no consideration of the Raptors as a real contender next season.
Despite the acquisition of a superstar for the Raptors, every piece of analysis on the trade includes one major asterisk: "if he's healthy". But they know they're not good enough to win a title, and while they stopped short of blowing up the team they sure gave the foundation a couple of good thwacks with a wrecking ball in dumping Casey and trading DeRozan.
He continued: "You might take a step back in terms of wasting this year of his prime but if you can sit there and say, 'I've got LeBron James; he's not quite what he was a year ago, fair, but I've got Kawhi in his prime".