Blogtable Archive

Blogtable: Assessing the risk the Toronto Raptors took in trading for Kawhi Leonard?

Each week, we ask our scribes to weigh in on the most important NBA topics of the day.

* * *

Low, medium or high? How would you assess the risk the Raptors took in trading for Kawhi Leonard?

* * *

Steve Aschburner: Medium. Trading away a reliable 20-point scorer is risky, trading away one who seemed happy to play for a franchise in a market that doesn’t naturally entice All-Star level talent is riskier still. If Leonard is just a one-season rental, this will sting. Then again, with all due respect, the Raptors might have concluded after their most recent Eastern Conference elimination that with DeMar DeRozan as their best player, they had topped out.

Tas Melas: Low. This team was going to be disassembled within the next two years anyway. Why not get a superstar in the process? Yes, whether Kawhi ever dons a Raptors uniform is up in the air, but Toronto did well to keep their pick if they’re bad next season, while also hanging on to Delon Wright, OG Anunoby, and Pascal Siakam – all guys who can shoot the 3 and play multiple positions defensively in today’s switch-happy NBA. This version of the Raptors needed to win this past season if they were going to stay together. DeMar DeRozan has been incredibly loyal to Toronto and is objectively the best Raptor ever, but the NBA can be cut-throat, and getting both younger and better is a no-brainer.

Shaun Powell: High. The chances of Leonard re-signing is perhaps nil; meanwhile, the Raptors sacrificed assets for a rental. But maybe they didn’t want to be stuck with DeRozan’s deal and want to make a run for it in the East without LeBron around to destroy their dreams.

John Schuhmann: Medium. The Raptors have raised their ceiling for the coming season, and maybe 2018-19 provides their best chance of getting to The Finals. They have great depth and versatility, with the potential to be the best defensive team in the league. But, with the chance that Leonard leaves next summer, they’ve lowered their floor for ’19-20 (the last season on Kyle Lowry’s contract). Sure, they could start restructuring the roster after that, but they’ve possibly shortened their run in the East’s top four and their reputation among players seems to have taken a hit.

Sekou Smith: Low. They didn’t gut the roster to get their hands on Kawhi, even if it is only for one season. They essentially cleared the books for a potential rebuild by parting ways with DeRozan and gave up Jakob Poetl for one of the top five-to-seven players in the league. Masai Ujiri did his business well here. There’s always a little risk when you make these sorts of moves. This was relatively low-risk, in my eyes. If it works out and Kawhi decides Toronto really is the place to be, it’s a home run for Ujiri. If not, you took your shot and move on.

* * *