DeMar DeRozan to Leave Toronto
(Canadian Press) First the head coach was shown the door. Now a franchise cornerstone is being shipped out.
The Toronto Raptors continue to make big changes after yet another post-season disappointment, with the latest move a whopper of a deal that will send DeMar DeRozan to San Antonio in exchange for Kawhi Leonard.
The Raptors confirmed the deal Wednesday afternoon in a news release. Toronto also acquired Danny Green in the trade while the Spurs also got Jakob Poeltl and a 2019 protected first-round draft pick.
The blockbuster came just a couple months after Toronto fired head coach Dwane Casey and replaced him with former assistant Nick Nurse. The Raptors finished first in the Eastern Conference with a 59-23 record last season but were swept by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the second round of the playoffs for the second straight year.
DeRozan, a four-time all-star swingman, has led the Raptors in scoring in each of the last five seasons. He was popular with fans and teammates during his nine-year run with the team, once famously declaring ``I am Toronto.''
The 28-year-old from Compton, Calif., posted some messages on his Instagram account earlier in the day that suggested he wasn't expecting to be dealt.
``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,'' he said.
Leonard, meanwhile, spent seven years in San Antonio but appeared in only nine games last season due to a leg injury, described as right quadriceps tendinopathy. The Spurs listed the 27-year-old forward as out on their injury reports for much of the season, citing ``injury management.''
Leonard helped the Spurs win a championship in 2014 and was named NBA Finals MVP. But his relationship with the team deteriorated last season and the two-time NBA defensive player of the year asked for a trade.
If healthy, Leonard would give Toronto a bonafide superstar in a lineup that includes veterans like Kyle Lowry, Jonas Valanciunas and Serge Ibaka along with young talents like O.G. Anunoby, Pascal Siakam, Fred VanVleet and Delon Wright.
During the 2016-17 season, Leonard averaged a career-best 25.5 points a game and was third in the MVP voting. He can become a free agent next summer while DeRozan has three years left on his contract.
DeRozan was selected by Toronto with the ninth overall pick in the 2009 NBA Draft. He was a regular starter almost right away and soon became an anchor on the Raptors, who have made five straight playoff appearances but have never made it to the NBA Finals.
``No matter what...When I think of Toronto Raptors Basketball... I think of DeMar DeRozan...He deserves a statue,'' former teammate DeMarre Carroll posted on Twitter.
DeRozan is the Raptors' all-time leader in points (13,296), field goals made (4,716), free throws made (3,539) and games played (675).
Green, a 31-year-old shooting guard, started 60 games for the Spurs last year and is a three-point threat. He averaged 8.6 points per game last season and has spent most of his nine-year NBA career in San Antonio.
Poeltl, a 22-year-old centre, averaged 6.9 points and 4.8 rebounds as a key bench player for Toronto last season. The Austrian is entering his third NBA campaign.