The long-awaited Kawhi Leonard trade to the Raptors was completed early this morning, and announced this afternoon. Leonard is heading to the Toronto for a return that is less than most expected.
The Raptors had been tabbed as a possible trade partner with the Spurs for a few weeks. The Spurs were reportedly interested in a package that included star players, young players with upside, and draft picks. The Raptors had all three available.
DeMar DeRozan was long rumored as the centerpiece of the deal. That wound up being the case. The Spurs got much less in return otherwise than most expected, however.
The rest of the deal: young center Jakob Poeltl, the No. 9 pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, and a 2019 first round pick protected 1-20.
Poeltl is a good young piece for sure. He averaged 6.9 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 1.2 blocks in just over 18 minutes per game last year, as a second-year guy.
The draft pick protection is more surprising. If it does not vest this year, it turns into two second-rounders in 2020.
According to Yahoo! Sports’ Jordan Schultz, the Spurs coveted one other young player that the Raptors were not willing to give up: forward OG Anunoby.
Anunoby was rumored in a number of Kawhi Leonard trade scenarios.
When it came down to it, #Raptors were unwilling to budge on prized young wing OG Anunoby. #Spurs wanted him – but they wanted to deal #Kawhi more. #DeRozan is an All-NBA caliber player w/3 years left on deal, but SA failing to secure Anunoby, Siakam or unprotected pick is a loss https://t.co/K7grciUKPz
— Jordan Schultz (@Schultz_Report) July 18, 2018
Anunoby, the 23rd pick in last year’s draft, had a very strong rookie year in Toronto. The Indiana product averaged 5.9 points per game, shooting 47-percent from the field and 37-percent from three. He upped his game in the playoffs, with 7.9 points per game, and shooting percentages of .559/.448/.727.
He just turned 21 on Tuesday, and has the makings of a plus-defender able to switch and take multiple positions at 6-foot-8, a very valuable skill in this NBA.
If you had asked me last night, I would’ve guessed that a Kawhi Leonard trade package from the Raptors would have included DeRozan, Poeltl, and Anunoby, and probably more in the way of draft picks. The fact that the Spurs settled for what they did is a huge win for Toronto.