The Daily Iowan

Leonard trade Spurs’ disappointment

Kawhi Leonard and DeMar DeRozan swap uniforms; what that means for them and their new teams.

The+San+Antonio+Spurs%27+Kawhi+Leonard+%282%29+dribbles+around+the+Miami+Heat%27s+LeBron+James+during+Game+4+of+the+NBA+Finals+at+American+Airlines+Arena+in+Miami+on+June+12%2C+2014.+%28Michael+Laughlin%2FSun+Sentinel%2FTNS%29
The San Antonio Spurs' Kawhi Leonard (2) dribbles around the Miami Heat's LeBron James during Game 4 of the NBA Finals at American Airlines Arena in Miami on June 12, 2014. (Michael Laughlin/Sun Sentinel/TNS)

The San Antonio Spurs' Kawhi Leonard (2) dribbles around the Miami Heat's LeBron James during Game 4 of the NBA Finals at American Airlines Arena in Miami on June 12, 2014. (Michael Laughlin/Sun Sentinel/TNS)

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TNS

The San Antonio Spurs' Kawhi Leonard (2) dribbles around the Miami Heat's LeBron James during Game 4 of the NBA Finals at American Airlines Arena in Miami on June 12, 2014. (Michael Laughlin/Sun Sentinel/TNS)

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There truly is no sport with a better offseason than the NBA’s. Officials announced early on July 18 that the Raptors would swap a top-20 protected pick, Jakob Poeltl, and DeMar DeRozan for the Spurs’ Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green.

That Leonard won’t put on the Spurs’ black jersey next season was no surprise; that he is going to Toronto — after stating he wanted no part of the Raptors — is a bit of a shocker.

Here is the impact I believe this rather disappointing blockbuster trade will have on both teams involved.

Spurs

Remember when the Spurs’ asking price for the former Finals MVP was three first-round picks and two players? Maybe they were just high-balling, but they didn’t get anywhere near their asking price. Instead of three solid picks and at least one budding star, the Spurs might not even get one first-round pick, and they get an aging star and a bench player.

San Antonio head coach Gregg Popovich says he’s happy with what the Spurs got, but he has to say that.

The fact is, the Spurs downgraded dramatically with this trade. DeRozan is an offensive superstar, but he doesn’t have anywhere near Leonard’s defensive prowess. They also got Poeltel, who is a decent center, but they got him partially at the expense of Green, whose value isn’t much lower than Poeltel’s to begin with.

To add to the sting for the Spurs, they got a first-round pick that won’t be higher than No. 21.

So exactly what do the Spurs get from this trade?

Nothing.

They have simply prolonged the inevitable. The team is destined for rebuilding before it will even have a shot at the Western Conference Finals. The trade might give the Spurs two more years in the playoffs, but they won’t go further than the second round. It’s a bitter end to one of the most underrated dynasties in NBA history.

Raptors

While the Raptors may be in the same boat as the Spurs — prolonging the inevitable rebuilding — the trade makes a lot more sense from their perspective. They retain all of their major assets while getting a pretty big upgrade at the shooting-guard position and gaining a valuable two-way guard off the bench in Green.

Not to mention that if the Leonard thing doesn’t work out, perhaps they could trade him midseason, break even, and still tank because the first-round pick they gave up is top-20 protected.

It also seems like a smart move on their part, because they are in the far weaker conference, with their only competition still being relatively young.

As far as the East’s power rankings go, it seems the Raptors are now sandwiched between the Celtics and the 76ers.

Sure, Leonard might only be a one-year rental, but this might be the only year that the Toronto, with its current roster, will still be competitive with Boston and Philadelphia.

A rebuilding is surely on the block for the Raptors, but this trade doesn’t hamper their ability to rebuild in the near future and gives them a good chance to make a run at the finals this upcoming season.

While picking a winner in a trade before a game has been played is always dangerous, I think it is safe to say the Raptors come out of this one as clear winners, even without a game being played.

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About the Writer
Jordan Zuniga, Sports Reporter

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @j_zuni

Jordan Zuniga is a sports reporter at The Daily Iowan covering football. This is Zuniga’s second year with the DI where he has covered a variety of sports such as: women’s basketball, golf, women’s soccer, baseball, track and field, softball, and men’s basketball.

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