Gregg Popovich On Kawhi Leonard Trade: ‘We’re Thrilled With DeMar (DeRozan)’

Gregg Popovich On Kawhi Leonard Trade: ‘We’re Thrilled With DeMar (DeRozan)’

While the impact Kawhi Leonard will ultimately have on the Toronto Raptors ability to win the National Basketball Association title won't be known for a while, Wednesday's trade has already vastly improved their betting odds to lift the Larry O'Brien trophy.

After months of speculation and multiple trade rumors, the Spurs finally agreed to trade Leonard (as well as Danny Green) to the Raptors in exchange for DeRozan, Jakob Poeltl and a top-20 protected 2019 first round pick. When he fired Casey, it was the first time the team president, who has led a charmed existence in Toronto, made a move that put much scrutiny squarely on himself. Both the Lakers and Clippers expressed interest in Leonard this season, but could not come to an agreement with the Spurs.

Last season, he averaged 23.4 ppg while improving a key facet of his game by hitting a career-high 89 3-pointers. That's no disrespect to San Antonio - the Spurs are a model franchise and Gregg Popovich is a coach nearly anyone would want to play for - but DeRozan rather would have stayed in Toronto. Paired with LaMarcus Aldridge, Dejounte Murray, and the always solid role-playing core with the Spurs, they are in the playoff mix in the middle of a brutal West. DeRozan has two seasons guaranteed at $27.7 million, with a player option for a third season after that. Leonard may not want to stay - or even show up. I think that he's gonna be great.

DeMar DeRozan
GETTYThe Spurs have acquired De Mar DeRozan in place of wantaway star Leonard

He embraced that city when others stars had bolted it, In an Instagram story, he vented (the Raptors reportedly told DeRozan during Summer League he would not be traded, despite rumors). All of this being a one-year gamble of sorts in the maiden voyage of head coach Nick Nurse, with Ujiri taking one hard, calculated run at winning the Eastern Conference championship - then scrambling to begin re-filling his roster. Ain't no loyalty in this game. "Sell you out quit for a little bit of nothing..." said one post. "It's a business and you understand the business, but from a player standpoint, it just sucks".

Green, a 31-year-old shooting guard, started 60 games for the Spurs last year and is a three-point threat. Without a physical, it's tough to gauge whether Leonard is healthy enough to play now, or if he's over the issue that cost him 73 games last season.

Some have questioned the Lakers' tactics given that it means James' hopes of adding another ring to his collection this season is all but dependent on him himself, having near single-handedly carried the Cleveland Cavaliers to the Finals a year ago.

Boys' trek into Thai cave supposed to last only an hour!
Two British divers found them on July 2, squatting on a mound in a flooded chamber several kilometers inside the complex. Mr Jewell said: "Our role was to help transport the boys under water through the cave to bring them out".

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