The Klaw Becomes a Raptor: Kawhi Leonard Trade


Months of speculation and drama is now over. All-Star Kawhi Leonard has been traded to the Toronto Raptors. The Raptors also received forward Danny Green and the Spurs acquired All-Star DeMar DeRozan, Jakob Poeltl and a protected first round draft pick. The drama began with conflicting reports about Leonard's injury last season. He only appeared in nine games, averaging 16.3 points per game. The relationship between Leonard and the Spurs soured. Leonard did not want to return to the Spurs. The Spurs decided it was time to move on. Now that Leonard is with the Raptors, what does this mean for his future? 


The Raptors should know that Leonard will be one-and-done. Rumors have surfaced that Leonard does not want to play for the Raptors and is considering sitting out next season. If that holds true, then the Raptors will look absolutely horrible coming out of this deal. More than likely, Leonard will play. When healthy, he is one of the best players in the NBA. Leonard is a better overall player than DeRozan. He will add championship pedigree to the Raptors, who are in need of a star to get them over the hump. If Leonard puts in max effort, the Raptors will have enough power to win the Eastern Conference. 


Leonard had to get away from the Spurs. Their relationship was beyond repair. Now that he is free, he is in control of his destiny. Leonard only has one year remaining on his current deal and is not interested in a long term contract with the Raptors. Leonard is now in position to receive a max contract in 2019, especially if he has a great season. Also, Leonard has targeted the Los Angeles Lakers as the next team he prefers to play for. Both him and the Lakers will have to play the waiting game for now.


Leonard's legacy has taken a hit. He coming off as a selfish, self-centered player. With the injury controversy and his dislike for the Raptors swirling around, Leonard will have to use next season to right the ship. Also, there is still questions about how his injury will impact him. If Leonard does not perform well next season, he could take himself out of the running for a max deal and his ranking among NBA players will drop. Leonard has everything to gain but a lot to lose.