Tomas Karageorgos | Report
On July 18, the Toronto Raptors traded Jakob Poeltl and fan-favourite DeMar DeRozan to the San Antonio Spurs along with a first round draft pick in exchange for Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green.
Arguably one of the biggest trades in the NBA off-season so far happened in mid-July, involving two big names in DeRozan and Leonard. This trade comes as a shock to Raptors fans, Spurs fans, and basketball fans in general seeing as Toronto Raptors General Manager Masai Ujiri told DeRozan a week before that he was not going to be traded.
DeRozan, 28, who was drafted by Toronto in 2009, leaves the Raptors at the top of many individual accomplishments and records: 4x NBA All-Star, most minutes played in franchise history, most games played in franchise history, and most points scored in franchise history.
Once DeRozan found out about the trade, he took to Instagram to post a story which many could tell the disappointment he had with the Raptors front office.
Loyalty is tough to come by in the sports world, as DeRozan found out the hard way. Sports has always been, and will continue to be a business.
Toronto also sent 22-year-old Power Forward/Centre Jakob Poeltl to San Antonio. Poeltl spent two seasons with the Raptors, and was a key role in their 2017-18 season, featuring in all 82 games. Poeltl is known for his toughness and his rebounding ability, which is something his new coach Gregg Popovich has experience coaching throughout his time at the Spurs. Poeltl has great potential at such a young age, Popovich will look to mold him into a Pau Gasol, who also plays on the Spurs and has similar features and skills.
The big name that the Raptors get in return for DeMar DeRozan and Jakob Poeltl is Kawhi Leonard. Leonard was drafted by San Antonio in 2011, and like DeRozan, has won awards and individual accomplishments: 2014 NBA Champion, 2014 NBA Finals M.V.P., 2x NBA All-Star, and 2015 NBA steal leader. Leonard is the more decorated player in terms of championships and awards, but his 2017-18 season was the least impressive out of his career thus far; he missed the first 27 games of the season because of a right quadriceps injury. In early 2018, Leonard suffered a partial tear in his left shoulder, then just two weeks later was ruled out of action indefinitely due to the initial injury he suffered. The 2017-18 season was not a kind one to Kawhi Leonard, which has Raptors fans wondering how he will preform for them in the upcoming season.
The other player sent to Toronto along with Kawhi Leonard was Danny Green, who joined the Spurs in 2011. Green is not the flashiest of players, but gets the job done with toughness, and is a distance shooter who can also finish in the paint. Green was not talked about as much as Leonard when the trade became official, but he can provide the Raptors with his veteran experience.
Most trades in sports have a clear winner and loser right from the get-go, but with quality players being sent in different directions, no one is sure whether the Raptors or the Spurs got the better deal.
Only time will tell to determine if this was a good trade or not.
Featured image by Soobum Im/USA Today Sports.