Leonard requested a trade after a meeting with Spurs coach Gregg Popovich. His absence from the team became a point of consternation for Popovich and the Spurs, who didn't have the All-Star forward on the floor for the final five months of the season because of a quadriceps injury.
The Los Angeles Lakers, Boston Celtics, Cleveland Cavaliers, Philadelphia 76ers and others checked on Leonard's availability before Wednesday's trade in which the Spurs were able to acquire another All-Star in DeRozan.
Tobias Harris #34 of the Detroit Pistons defends against Kawhi Leonard #2 of the San Antonio Spurs in the first half of an NBA game at Little Caesars Arena on December 30, 2017 in Detroit, Michigan
Image credit: Getty Images
The Raptors are rolling the dice Leonard is healthy and willing to re-sign to stay in Toronto beyond this season. Leonard is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent in July 2019. By playing this season with Toronto, the Raptors would have the advantage of being able to pay $49 million more in a max deal than other suitors, such as the Lakers.
Los Angeles and other teams with cap space could offer four years at $141 million; Toronto can reach five years, $190 million.
DeRozan's immediate reaction -- after reportedly being informed during a meeting with team brass at Vegas Summer League he would not be traded -- was not positive.
On his Instagram page Wednesday morning, DeRozan wrote, "Be told one thing & the outcome another. Can't trust em. Ain't no loyalty in this game. Sell you out quick for a little bit of nothing... Soon you'll understand... Don't disturb..."
According to multiple reports, the first-rounder is protected if the Raptors pick anywhere from first to 20th next year. In 2020, the pick would become two second-round picks instead of a first-rounder.
DeRozan has three years, $83 million remaining on his contract.