A Wednesday morning deal ensured that the Toronto Raptors roster will have a decidedly different look this upcoming NBA season. In addition to head coach Nick Nurse now manning the sideline, the Raptors have agreed to trade DeMar DeRozan, Jakob Poeltl and a 2019 first-round pick to the San Antonio Spurs in exchange for Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green.
The deal marks the end of an era for DeRozan’s nine-year tenure in Toronto. Drafted with the 10th overall pick by Toronto in the 2009 NBA Draft, DeRozan came to a Raptors team in a much different position than where it is now. In his nine seasons, DeRozan flourished from a 19-year-old rookie into a four-time NBA All-Star, setting countless franchise records along the way. He leaves Toronto the franchise leader in games played (675), games started (663) and points scored (13296), while also setting the franchise record for most points in a game with a 52-point performance this past season. He helped Toronto to each of its 50+ win seasons, as well as the franchise’s appearance in the Eastern Conference Finals in 2016. He will be remembered not only for his impact on the floor, but away from it as well, embracing the opportunity to represent Canada, as well as Toronto, as he helped to redefine the culture that the organization has built in recent history.
Leonard comes to Toronto after seven years in San Antonio, where he was acquired in a draft-day deal as the 15th overall pick in 2011. He was the 2014 Finals MVP and named the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year in both 2015 and 2016. The two-time All-Star has also been named to the All-NBA First Team twice (2016, 2017), and was the NBA’s leader in steals in 2015. Largely regarded as the best perimeter defender in the league, Leonard’s impact is immediate and felt on both ends of the floor. Though he was limited during the 2017-18 season due to injury, he averaged a career-high 25.5 points in 2016-17, to go along with 5.8 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.8 steals per game. During the 2014 Finals, he led the Spurs over the Miami Heat to win his first championship, averaging 17.8 points on 61 percent shooting to become the third-youngest player to ever win the NBA Finals MVP award.
Poeltl was selected ninth overall by Toronto in the 2016 NBA Draft. He appeared in 136 games over his two seasons with the Raptors, averaging 6.9 points, 4.8 rebounds and 1.2 blocks, all career-highs, last season.
NBA veteran Green will join Leonard in Toronto. A sharpshooter who averaged 9.1 points, 3.5 rebounds and 1.7 assists in 25.8 minutes per game in eight seasons with San Antonio, Green shot 39.6 percent from beyond the arc during his tenure with the Spurs and was named to the NBA All-Defensive Second Team during the 2016-17 season.
With plenty of movement happening around the league this offseason, this trade signifies a commitment by the Raptors organization to continue to build on recent regular-season successes and advance in the postseason.