Title: Summer blockbuster is working out well for Raptors and Spurs alike
Date: January 3, 2019
Original Source: The Athletic
Synopsis: In my latest for The Athletic Toronto, I wrote about the individual progress of all four players involved in this past summer’s Raptors-Spurs blockbuster trade.
The full accounting of this summer’s blockbuster trade between the Raptors and Spurs won’t be completed until at least some time down the line.
For the Raptors, the flipping of franchise star DeMar DeRozan — along with Jakob Poeltl and a lottery-protected 2019 first-round pick — was deemed a necessary risk. It was an all-in push to ascend higher during this competitive window than they maybe would have running things back for a sixth year. Weighing that decision was difficult in the moment and will be difficult still if the team tops out as anything other than a champion, especially if Kawhi Leonard leaves after the season. The logic will not have changed, nor will the calculation of the gamble. Masai Ujiri, Bobby Webster and company made the right basketball move with their place on the competitive curve. Most will understand it as a necessary and worthwhile risk on probabilistic terms regardless of the outcome, but that outcome at either extreme will certainly color the long-term perception.
For the Spurs, it was a matter of accepting the end of the Kawhi Leonard era, determining whether that meant taking a large step back or continuing to compete through 2020 and then getting the most of a bad situation through the chosen lens. Choosing to remain competitive was perhaps arguable in a vacuum, one the Spurs don’t operate within — they had a handful of players nearing the end of their peak utility and their contracts and possibly a head coach heading toward the end of his career. Everything on San Antonio’s side of the deal is muddied by the uncertainty of the situation before the need to make the trade. Once it was decided that Leonard had to be dealt and a blow-up wasn’t in the cards, landing a star of DeRozan’s ilk with a prospect and a pick for Leonard and Danny Green wasn’t a bad return. If nothing else, they’ll get an extra year from DeRozan in 2019-20, one Leonard was almost certain not to play in their colours.