The San Antonio Spurs and Toronto Raptors are engaged in serious talks on a trade centered around Kawhi Leonard and DeMar DeRozan, league sources told Yahoo Sports.
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
From the moment Leonard made clear his desire for a trade out of San Antonio, the Spurs have taken a patient, deliberate approach to finding a resolution. Several teams, including the Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Clippers, Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers, emerged as suitors, but most NBA executives believed the Raptors presented the best potential current and future package.
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.
Leonard became uncomfortable with the Spurs’ franchise last season because of an overall mistrust stemming from the handling of his quadriceps injury, leading to his desire to be traded. The 2014 NBA Finals MVP then met with Spurs coach Gregg Popovich on June 19 and informed him that his stance had not changed, league sources said, and Leonard had long eyed Los Angeles as his next destination via free agency in 2019. For the Raptors, the risk and reward would come should the Leonard deal go through, but Toronto has become a potentially attractive city, organization and on- and off-court fit for marquee players.
DeRozan has spent his entire nine-year NBA career in Toronto, the franchise that selected him with the No. 9 pick in the 2009 draft. The face of the franchise and culture, DeRozan remained loyal to the team in 2016 when he signed a five-year, $139 million contract extension. He is a four-time NBA All-Star, leading the Raptors to the most winning in franchise history, including the 2016 Eastern Conference Finals.
Leonard, 27, is a two-time All-Star and led the Spurs to the 2014 championship. Leonard, 26, is under contract for two more seasons and owed $41.4 million, but has a player option for 2019-20. He was drafted 15th overall in 2011 and when healthy is regarded as the league’s best two-way player. Leonard had his finest season in 2016-17, when he averaged 25.5 points, 5.8 rebounds and 3.5 assists and shot 38 percent from 3-point range.
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