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Other than LeDecision out of Cleveland, it’s been the biggest story of the NBA off-season: just where will want-away San Antonio Spur Kawhi Leonard end up?
It seems now we have our answer, as San Antonio have agreed with the Toronto Raptors to trade Leonard for DeMar DeRozan. There are more details to come, including other players being included in the trade.
Leonard’s deal expires at the end of next season where he has told the Spurs and anyone else who would listen that he’s headed to the Lakers to play alongside LeBron James.
Four-time All Star DeRozan re-signed a new five-year deal in 2016 and has formed a lethal combination with Kyle Lowry at the Raptors in recent years.
The Raptors have been one of the Eastern Conference’s standout teams through the regular season, before being annually dispensed with by LeBron’s Cleveland Cavaliers in the finals.
They topped the East this season and even saw coach Dwane Casey win the coach of the year gong, before going out in straight sets to LeBron and the Cavs.
NBA man in the know Adrian Wojnarowski reported the deal on Twitter shortly before midnight Sydney time.
Toronto has reached agreement in principle to acquire San Antonio's Kawhi Leonard for package that includes DeMar DeRozan, league sources tell ESPN. Trade is larger on both sides, and players are still being informed of their inclusion in the deal. Trade call with league today.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) July 18, 2018
Despite Leonard indicating he’s off to LA, the Raptors must be confident that they’ll be able to charm the former finals MVP.
Toronto have a history of struggling to attract top talent and have never made the conference finals, although they will be buoyed by Paul George’s recent decision to forego a big contract at the Lakers and re-sign with the small market Oklahoma City Thunder to play alongside Russell Westbrook.
The inside word was that Leonard wasn’t particularly excited about heading over the border.
Kawhi Leonard has no desire to play in Toronto, league source tells ESPN.
— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) July 18, 2018
As for DeRozan, he had recently stated he wanted to stay in Canada for the long term, with team officials consistently re-iterating that he was not on the trading block.
In a midnight post on Instagram before the trade became public knowledge, DeRozan seemed to criticise the franchise. He stated “Be told one thing & the outcome another. Can’t trust em. Ain’t no loyalty in this game. Sell you out quick for a little bit of nothing…Soon you’ll understand.”
Stay tuned to The Roar for more updates as they continue to trickle through.