If Jalen Rose knows what he’s talking about, the Toronto Raptors should make a serious run at acquiring Kawhi Leonard.
We know Jalen Rose doesn’t know too much about defence, considering we watched Kobe drop 81 on his head, but what we do know is Rose feels Kawhi Leonard wants to pack his bags. Rose has been in Leonard’s corner since day one and last year felt Leonard should have won the MVP. Now that the drama has escalated, according to Rose, Leonard wants a new address.
If the Spurs are open to moving Leonard after an attempt or two to kiss and makeup, the Raptors are well suited to send a legit offer, all doing so without hampering the future success of the team.
Kawhi Leonard is 26, he’d be a huge part of the future. We can start there. There are going to be a ton of teams lining up to present their case, and you certainly can’t blame them. Leonard is a legit star, who doesn’t enjoy or want any part of the spotlight, who just wants to go to work, put in a shift, and get away. Perfect, no distractions, no worries, basically a Hakuna Matata basketball player. Rare, and if available, stack them up.
Kawhi is the perfect teammate. He’s got an adaptable personality type, team-first mentality and numbers which have improved each of his first 6 seasons, almost completely across the board. This year he’s been banged up but when you have a chance to pick up a player of Kawhi’s calibre, you take advantage.
So, why would the Raptors entertain this trade?
One, it’s a west coast team, always a little bit easier trading away players you hardly ever see again.
Two, they’re deep enough they can add Leonard and keep Lowry and DeRozan.
Three, they’re deep enough they can add Leonard and keep OG, Delon Wright and Jakob Poeltl.
Would this be enough, who knows, but if so, the Raptors should pull the trigger on unloading Jonas Valanciunas, Norm Powell, Fred VanVleet, Lucas Nogueira and a first-round pick, protected if you can. If it’s not a protected pick, who cares, the Raps would be a beast with Leonard. But a deal like such could spark some interest from the Spurs.
After unloading the mega-package the Raptors would still be a deep enough team to make a serious run in the playoffs. And the sell for San Antonio’s management team to fans is they are getting two young bigs, one who is a legit starting Center in the NBA, one who can be a piece off the bench. Norm Powell, who has the ability to start, and is 24 and Fred Van Fleet, who is as underrated as they come and could walk into some serious minutes once the fossil of Tony Parker hangs em up at seasons end. Throw in a first-round pick for good measure and it seems like a reasonable sell.
From the north side’s perspective, if Masai had the marbles to pull the trigger he would give the Raps a chance to become a feared powerhouse. Adding Leonard makes a ton of sense.
The lineup would be constructed along the lines of:
Lowry, DeRozan, Leonard, Ibaka, Poeltl
Rest of the playoff rotation: Delon Wright, OG, CJ Miles, Siakum
And with the versatility of a lot of these players along with Dwayne Casey’s comfort level with playing a ton of guards, you could mix the lineup up a ton causing matchup problems in the Playoffs.
Starting to sound ok?
With a fragile Eastern Conference and the unknown future of LeBron in Cleveland, having Leonard in the East and developing a brand of basketball consisting of young athletic ballers who play both ends of the court, makes a ton of sense for the Raps to pull this off. It would help their chances of getting to the finals this season. And, if they get dusted by Golden State, take notes, adjust, and execute the following season. Raps can do this. A move for Leonard could set them up for the finals for the next few years. Especially if LeBron goes to the Lakers.
For what it’s worth, players like Kawhi Leonard don’t grow on trees and the Toronto Raptors have the pieces to maintain a conversation with the Spurs. His numbers speak for themselves, the awards, the personality type, the work ethic; there’s a lot to like about Kawhi. And there would be a lot to like about the Toronto Raptors with Leonard in the lineup.
Calling Masai…it’s time for one of those signature mega-deals.