Surprise Eastern Conference Contender ‘Finalizing’ Trade for Kawhi Leonard

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He embraced that city when others stars had bolted it, In an Instagram story, he vented (the Raptors reportedly told DeRozan during Summer League he would not be traded, despite rumors). In the Raptors' case, James left the conference, and a superstar became available at a price that didn't significantly hurt the team. For the Lakers, having a chance to keep their young core and sign Leonard as a free agent next season is certainly the best-case scenario. It would prove to be one of the franchise's most brilliant moves as he quickly blossomed into a franchise player under Gregg Popovich's watch.

After several weeks of speculation, news final broke early Wednesday that the Toronto Raptors and San Antonio Spurs had come to agreement on a trade with DeMar DeRozan and Kawhi Leonard as the centrepieces. "Can't trust em. Ain't no loyalty in this game", DeRozan said. "Sell you out quick for a little bit of nothing ..." The potential deal would bring Leonard, one of the NBA's top players when healthy, to Toronto and send an All-NBA and All-Star caliber player in DeRozan to the Spurs.

Toronto's first-round pick to San Antonio is a protected 1-20 selection, a source told ESPN. But after getting swept in the second round by Cleveland, the Raptors decided massive changes were necessary - first the firing of coach of the year Dwane Casey, and now the trading of a perennial All-Star who once famously declared "I am Toronto". And if he really wants to land a max contract next summer, it would be wise of him to play and prove to teams that the quad injury that kept him out of all but nine games last season is not a reason for concern.

During the 2016-17 season, Leonard averaged a career-best 25.5 points a game and was third in the MVP voting.

Kawhi Leonard
GETTYThe trade brings to an end Leonard's relationship with coach Gregg Popovich

Oh, and if the deal falls through (like, because Leonard doesn't want to be there), it would be seem hard for DeRozan and the Raptors to work things out at this point.

DeRozan has 3 years, $83 million remaining on his contract.

The Golden State Warriors have won three of the last four National Basketball Association titles with James's Cavs upsetting Steph Curry and Co.in 2016.

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