UPDATE (Wednesday, July 18, 6:05 a.m. PT): The San Antonio Spurs and Toronto Raptors agreed to a trade centered around Kawhi Leonard and DeMar DeRozan.
What was expected to be a bit of a lull in the NBA offseason was flipped on its head early Wednesday morning with a report that the San Antonio Spurs and Toronto Raptors were engaged in trade talks centered around Kawhi Leonard and DeMar DeRozan.
It represented the latest twist in a saga that gained steam in May when Leonard reportedly made it clear to the Spurs that his preference was to be traded to the Los Angeles Lakers. The Philadelphia 76ers and Boston Celtics were among the teams with reported interest in Leonard.
After weeks of speculation that tied the Lakers to the two-time All-Star, that largely subsided as the 2018 NBA Draft came and went and free agency began.
Meanwhile, although the Raptors and Spurs are believed to be in deep negotiations, a potential deal may have reached a roadblock.
According to ESPN’s Chris Haynes, Leonard does not want to play in Toronto:
Kawhi Leonard has no desire to play in Toronto, league source tells ESPN.
— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) July 18, 2018
It was previously reported that Leonard informed other teams with trade interest that he would sign with the Lakers as a 2019 free agent. San Antonio initially rebuked the Lakers’ efforts to begin trade talks, then grew more receptive but with the caveat of asking for a significant haul in exchange for Leonard.
There was some suggestion the Lakers wished to complete a trade for Leonard in order to aid their efforts in free agency with LeBron James and Paul George, but those stars never aligned. George remained with Oklahoma City and James signed a four-year contract with the Lakers anyway.
The Raptors are coming off a No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference for the first time in franchise history but have made a habit of disappointing in the playoffs. That could both be a factor in Leonard not having interest in joining them and the Raptors’ desire to once and for all break up the core that’s been led by DeRozan and Kyle Lowry.
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