Given Kawhi Leonard’s preference to play elsewhere, the San Antonio Spurs received a good haul for the star forward. By adding DeMar DeRozan, Jakob Poeltl, and a late first-round pick, the Spurs restocked their cupboard while allowing themselves to remain competitive in 2018-19.
DeRozan, who averaged 23 PPG and 5.2 APG last season with the Toronto Raptors, will make an immediate impact for the Spurs, where he will become the go-to scorer right away.
While head coach Gregg Popovich received a plethora of questions about Leonard, he is most looking forward to dealing with his new players.
“At this point, my main interest is definitely not to look back," he told reporters. "It doesn't do us any good whatsoever. I am thrilled to have DeMar and Jakob join us. From that point on, that is where my focus will be. I am not too interested in talking about the past.”
Leonard played in just nine games last season, and he was forced to leave the 2016-17 playoffs with an ankle injury. A quadriceps injury derailed his 2017-18 campaign.
Leonard, who won a Finals MVP and two Defensive Player of the Year Awards with the Spurs, will enter the final year of his contract with the Raptors. Upon completion, he will be eligible for a 5-year, $190 million contract with Toronto. He reportedly will look to play elsewhere, though.
Given his preferences, the Spurs maximized his value.
"With DeMar coming to San Antonio, I couldn't be happier," Popovich said. "I think this trade will be good for both teams. DeMar is a four-time All-Star, an All-NBA player, great in the community there, team player, somebody I have respected and watched play for a while now, and we are thrilled to have him here,” Popovich added.
DeRozan will start next to point guard Dejounte Murray, a promising young player who took over for Tony Parker last season. Parker has since left for the Charlotte Hornets, giving the Spurs an entirely new look from years past.
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