By: Papa Minnow
The Raptors just made the biggest trade in franchise history by trading DeMar DeRozan & Jakokb Poeltl to the Spurs for Kawhi Leonard, Danny Green, and a protected 2019 pick. I just want to get my thoughts out and explain the situation of the trade because all over social media I’m seeing a lot of “hate” at the Raptors for getting better and it makes no sense to me whatsoever.
So here’s the gist, in my raw and unedited form.
Was DeMar treated unfairly when he was told by the Raptors a couple days ago that he wasn’t being shopped? Absolutely.
Can you be upset that he’s no longer on the team because he was loyal and you liked him as a player? Yes.
Does it suck that one of the most loyal players in Toronto history left, after having a terrible time with Vince Carter’s departure and Chris Bosh taking his talents to south beach? Of course.
Is this a risky move by Masai Ujiri and the Raptors? 100 percent.
However, what’s being missed by fans alike is that the bottom line is the Raptors got better and as an organization that is their job. Raptors fans are some of the most fickle fans in the NBA in large part due to how much hurt they’ve had to endure as a franchise.
But in this generation of hot takes and microwave attention spans everything moves on quickly. Three months ago when the Raptors were the first seed to get swept in however many years, the main dialogue around the team was:
“We need superstars!” “These guys choked again!” “Get rid of Dwane Casey!” “We need to blow it up!” “There’s no way we can win a championship if we run it back with the same guys, something has to change!”
And rightfully so. Last year was the opportunity for the Raptors to prove to everyone they were a different team and they deserved to stick together and get another shot to prove they could win a championship with that core. Had they played better against the Cavs and gone to seven games instead of getting swept, I’m sure DeMar would still be a Raptor as would Dwane Casey.
This isn’t to blame DeMar at all, but in Game 3 against the Cavs who was on the bench when the team made the run in the second to get back in the game? DeMar was. And in Game 4 who got ejected out of frustration and didn’t show much heart? *refer to previous answer*
These guys lost in the same old fashion with the same fear mentality they’ve had in the playoffs against Washington in the past and in back to back years against LeBron James and the Cavs.
So it’s perplexing to me when Masai Ujiri makes a blockbuster trade and acquires superstar talent, a guy who’s been in the MVP discussion twice, has won a Finals MVP, and is one of the best two-way players in the league, and there’s still this sense of the Raptors never should have done it.
Sure, Kawhi is coming off a major injury, but the deal doesn’t go through if he doesn’t pass the physical (which brings a whole host of new problems so let’s hope that doesn’t happen). This is also Masai Ujiri we’re talking about, I don’t think he pulls the plug on a deal like this if he doesn’t have some inclination.
“But Kawhi doesn’t want to play for the Raptors! He’s not going to re-sign!”
I can’t guarantee that he will re-sign and as of now it’s not looking like he will because of the reports, but reports aren’t 100% facts. Nothing is a fact until it takes place. But let’s entertain the idea that he doesn’t want to stay.
The Raptors didn’t give up their core of young guys or assets to acquire Kawhi. We kept OG, a kid who’s been compared to Kawhi, we kept Siakam, we still have VanVleet and Delon, the only loss was Poeltl; who while good and has some potential, has not shown as much of a ceiling as the previous guys mentioned.
If this deal doesn’t work out and Kawhi doesn’t re-sign, the Raptors don’t risk their future, they have cap space to sign guys in 2020 when the core’s contract’s are up and can get some pieces via trades in the future. The only loss here is the heart of DeMar.
Also, there’s this idea that Kawhi is going to tank the season, but there’s numerous reasons why he can’t simply do that. One it hurts his value in the off season next year if he chooses to sign with another team, no organization is going to want to take on a player with that mentality. It only hurts him and his brand.
And second, there’s a clause in the CBA that states he can’t and if he chooses to sit out for the season well then the Raptors are the only team in the league that can sign him at that point.
And for anyone saying it’s a bad look for stars to want to come here, you clearly haven’t paid attention because that’s always been the case whether we kept DeMar or not. Every year in the off season all the rumblings around the Raptors was not being able to make deals for superstar talent.
With the way Boston and Philly will improve in the East the Raptors’ best shot to do damage is now. There’s no more waiting around to see what this core can do, we saw them peak last year and Kawhi brings a real chance at grasping the Finals.
We’re in a player driven league at the moment, teams are trying to do what’s best for them, much like when Danny Ainge went and got Kyrie for IT who was an MVP candidate and had a hell of a season, but everyone’s quick to forget that because the Celtics won the trade.
It sucks that it’s become this way, but you either adapt or perish. If last year during the season I told you that DeMarcus Cousins would be a Warrior, or Paul George was going to re-sign with OKC, or DeMar would be traded for Kawhi I would be laughed out of the building, but guess what? These are now the facts. And there’s no guarantees in this league so who knows if Kawhi won’t be a Raptor next season.