According to multiple reports today, the Toronto Raptors have emerged as the favorites to land Kawhi Leonard via trade.
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) July 11, 2018
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) July 12, 2018
Honestly speaking, Vegas odds for trades have always confused me. Do these guys just have sources the Big J Journalists don’t? Are the team owners secretly running an underground gambling ring? Who knows, but right now we’re going to go with it. Before I start though, keep in mind that this is all me just spitballing.
So the Raptors are the “odds-on favorites” to land Kawhi Leonard. Okay, cool. If I’m the Raptors GM, nobody on my roster is untouchable in this situation (if Kawhi agrees to re-sign). That means if it takes either Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan, Jonas Valenciunas, anybody, you do it. We already know what those guys are capable of achieving together, which is one of the reasons I’d be comfortable shaking up that trio a bit. Outside of that, Lowry ($31M) and DeRozan ($27M) are expected to account for close to half of the teams projected cap for this upcoming season. If you’re Toronto, that is not great.
Maybe a package of Lowry, younger pieces (OG Anunoby+Delon Wright?), and some picks for Kawhi and whoever else is necessary to make the money work (Patty Mills?) could get the job done. In this deal, the Raptors are both dumping that awful Lowry contract and bringing in a top three talent in Kawhi. It’ll cost them Anunoby and Wright, who both looked very promising last season, but a wing combination of Leonard and DeRozan could be lethal enough for it to be worth it.
And for San Antonio, you may be losing Kawhi, but that’s inevitable at this point. At least in this scenario, you’re bringing in a veteran point guard who will free up a shit ton of money once his contract is up, along with two very promising young players in Anunoby and Wright + picks. Based on what we’ve watched superstars go for recently, that isn’t a bad haul.
This would make the Raptors rotation look something like this:
Starters: Fred VanVleet, DeMar DeRozan, Kawhi Leonard, Serge Ibaka, Jonas Valenciunas
Key Bench Players: CJ Miles, Patty Mills, Norman Powell, Jakob Poetel, Pascal Siakam
In the Eastern Conference, I would take that. You aren’t winning the Finals with that roster, but the current one they have in place isn’t either. So why not shake things up a little bit? And who knows, if Kawhi did agree to stick around in Toronto, they could become a destination for someone like DeMarcus Cousins after he wins a ring in Golden State then dips next Summer. Again, this is all just speculation, but feel free to let me know what you think in the comments.
Nick Cherico (@NickCherico2)