Because the NBA apparently literally does not sleep anymore, I’m here past 1 a.m. PST to bring you news that the San Antonio Spurs and Toronto Raptors are in the middle of “serious” trade talks that would send Kawhi Leonard to Canada, according to Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:
San Antonio and Toronto are engaged in serious talks on a trade centered on Kawhi Leonard and DeMar DeRozan, league sources tell Yahoo.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) July 18, 2018
Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN followed that up soon after:
Toronto is close to a deal to acquire Spurs All-Star Kawhi Leonard, league sources tell @ChrisBHaynes and me. Trade package includes DeMar DeRozan, league sources tell ESPN.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) July 18, 2018
According to Charania, it sounds like very little (even Leonard not wanting to re-sign in Toronto) can hold this thing up:
Talks between the Spurs and Raptors have intensified in recent days, league sources said. The potential deal would bring Leonard, one of the NBA’s top players when healthy, to Toronto and send an All-NBA and All-Star caliber player in DeRozan to the Spurs. For key figures involved in the deal, it is believed only a snag in final discussions could prevent completion, league sources said
Leonard is scheduled to enter free agency in 2019 and has no intention to commit to Toronto long-term, league sources said. DeRozan also has expressed displeasure toward a possible move, becoming aware of the possibility late Tuesday night, league sources said.
Kawhi Leonard has no desire to play in Toronto, league source tells ESPN.— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) July 18, 2018
Those reports were lent a little credence by a nearly simultaneous (and to be fair, cryptic) Instagram story post from Raptors guard DeMar DeRozan:
DeMar's Instagram story pic.twitter.com/80hvSsFiCV— TV's Harrison Faigen (@hmfaigen) July 18, 2018
So it would seem if this deal does go through, common sense dictates that DeRozan would probably be the centerpiece of it, not only because of his Instagram post, but also because he’s the Raptors piece that would have the most value to a Spurs team that is not looking to rebuild over the final years of Gregg Popovich’s coaching career, potentially making DeRozan a more attractive piece to San Antonio than members of a Lakers young core that they’d have to wait around for to develop.
And look, it’s late. You don’t need me to tell you that this deal going through would be bad news for the Lakers, because the simple fact is that Leonard being sent anywhere else outside of San Antonio that could potentially woo him over the next calendar year is bad for the Lakers (even if he doesn’t plan to stay there right now), because the Lakers are otherwise sitting in the catbird seat in this situation because of Leonard’s camp’s oft-reported desire to end up in Los Angeles.
If Leonard leaves San Antonio and sees that he likes another place better though? Then all bets may be off, although as trade destinations go, Leonard going to Philadelphia or Boston would seemingly be worse for the Lakers than Leonard getting sent to the Raptors, because while Toronto might theoretically have a chance to get to the Finals in a weakened Eastern Conference with Leonard, a Sixers or Celtics team with him on their roster would be nearly a certainty to keep playing into June.
Still, no one thought Paul George would stay with the Thunder, and we saw how that turned out.
This is obviously a developing story, so stay tuned to Silver Screen and Roll for more coverage. Just hopefully not at 1:20 a.m.
You can follow Harrison on Twitter at @hmfaigen.