The Toronto Raptors swung for the fences when they traded a package centered around DeMar DeRozan to acquire Kawhi Leonard for the San Antonio Spurs. Now, the Raptors will get to spend the next year pitching their city and organization to Leonard, hoping he pulls a Paul George and decides to stay with the franchise when he hits unrestricted free agency next summer.
There’s just one problem: Leonard, by all indications, isn’t exactly happy that the Spurs sent him to Toronto. There were rumblings in the immediate aftermath of the trade getting reported that Leonard didn’t like his eventual destination, and according to Sean Deveney of Sporting News, things might be worse than anyone could have anticipated.
Deveney wrote that Leonard, who played in nine games last season due to a lingering quadriceps issue, has “no interest” in suiting up for Toronto and is prepared to sit out if need be.
And, league sources told Sporting News, Leonard has no interest in playing for the Raptors. There have been indications that he would sit out the entire season if necessary, and though that step would be drastic and unprecedented in today’s game, Toronto has forced the situation into uncharted territory by acquiring a player who has made it clear he does not want to be there.
Leonard is hardly the first player to not be happy with getting traded — DeRozan, for instance, isn’t exactly thrilled with the situation — but this would be an awfully strong hand for Leonard to play. As Zach Lowe of ESPN pointed out, there are safeguards that the Raptors have in the event that Leonard goes in this direction.
Of course, Leonard missed most of last year with his aforementioned injury, so it’s not like it would be unprecedented for him to be sidelined for an extended period of time with a health issue. Still, if Leonard decides he has no interest in ever playing a game for the Raptors, then Toronto is going to be among the most fascinating teams in the NBA next season for all the wrong reasons.