This just in: there is no loyalty in the NBA. Kawhi Leonard and DeMar DeRozan were traded for each other on July 18 and neither one of them are happy campers.
The Spurs did Leonard dirty all last season. It’s no wonder he wanted to be traded.
He was diagnosed with quadriceps tendinopathy, however he felt that the Spurs had misdiagnosed his injury leading to a lack of trust between him and the organization.
Throughout the season the team would periodically list Leonard as able to play because Spurs doctors cleared him to play.
He felt he wasn’t 100 percent healthy, as he also relied upon a second and third opinion, so he did not suit up those games.
Perhaps he learned from what happened to former Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas who in 2016 finished No. 5 in MVP voting. He also played the day after his sister tragically passed away and played on an injured hip during the playoffs.
Thomas was traded by the Celtics in the offseason before the 2018 season and his injured hip was one of the reasons he was dealt, according to Celtics general manager Danny Ainge.
He was poised to make $150-200 million on a long term deal, but he played on the injury after being misdiagnosed and got the short end of the stick.
After being traded again during the 2017-18 season, he became an unrestricted free agent and ended up with a one-year veteran minimum deal worth $2 million.
Thomas said after this blockbuster trade, “Just learn from my story!” He said, “Loyalty is just a word in this game SMH (Sic).”
Leonard only played nine games and missed the entire playoffs in 2017-18, after appearing in 74 the previous season.
All through the season there were all sorts of rumblings about Leonard, a guy no one really knows about due to his reserved nature.
The rumors ranged from Kawhi’s uncle took over his basketball relations and he’s the one trying to fray the relationship between Leonard and the Spurs to move him to a bigger market.
They didn’t stop there, the other gossip was that his teammates had a meeting to confront him about the injury, he wants to play in LA, then another that he doesn’t, it’s something new every day.
All the while Leonard per his personality, hasn’t said a word.
Fox Sports’ Skip Bayless called Leonard a “head case,” claiming he isn’t all there.
Leonard is a humble and quiet superstar, who doesn’t even have social media, so all fans could go off of is what the Spurs leaked out about him and what the media would portray which was an image turned bad.
Also, Leonard’s name was tarnished through the media primarily by Spurs head coach and president of basketball operations Gregg Popovich, long-time teammates Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili.
Comments made by the trio include a response by Pop to a question about whether or not Leonard would be ready in time for the playoffs, he told reporters, “You’ll have to ask Kawhi and his group that question,” further ostracizing the team’s franchise player.
Additionally, Parker making the statement that his ruptured left quadriceps tendon injury was the “same” and “100 times worse” than Leonard’s injury.
Ginobili added to the fire by saying “it’s hard” to make him feel apart of the team when he’s not around, he continued to say “you got to make an effort.”
Those comments seemed to make Leonard, also known as The Klaw, distance himself from the organization. Later rumors swirled that Leonard wanted out of the Spurs and he wanted to come home and play for the Lakers.
How can you trust an organization that turns its back on you and publicly throws your name under the bus? Easy, you can’t.
Leonard helped bring the Spurs championship No. 5 in 2014 and was named Finals MVP. He was also a back to back Defensive Player of the Year award winner and two time All-Star player.
The other All-Star to feel slighted is DeRozan, as he was the face of the Toronto Raptors for the past nine years since he drafted, but that didn’t stop the Raps from shipping him off.
DeRozan was drafted with the No. 9 overall pick in the 2009 NBA Draft.
He has led the team in scoring for the last seven consecutive years en route to four All-Star appearances in the Eastern Conference.
The Raptors have had poor success with retaining American basketball stars, previously losing three Hall of Fame caliber players in Vince Carter after he demanded a trade from the franchise, Tracy McGrady and Chris Bosh, both of whom left via free agency.
DeRozan was an anomaly as a player from Compton he resigned with the Raptors in 2016 and gave the team a discount of $13 million.
He was an unrestricted free agent and with that tag he could have signed with any other team, but he stayed in Toronto, the city colloquially known as “the six.”
Toronto Raptors receive: Kawhi Leonard, Danny Green
San Antonio Spurs receive: Demar Derozan, Jakob Poeltl and 2019 first-round pick via Spurs
This deal was obviously not in the favor of either All-Star players being traded.
After being notified that he had been traded, DeRozan immediately took to Instagram to publicly display his frustration with the Raptors franchise.
DeRozan said, “Be told one thing & the outcome another,” indicating that he was told he wouldn’t be traded prior to actually being dealt away.
That seems to be true considering Raptors general manager Masai Ujiri issued a public apology to DeRozan, which based off of DeRozan’s subsequent post of a facepalm emoji, he did not accept it.
He continued, “Can’t trust em. Ain’t no loyalty in this game. Sell you out quick for a little bit of nothing.”
He followed that up with posting, “Soon you’ll understand.”
DeRozan is right with his last couple of sentences hinting at the thought that when Leonard hits unrestricted free agency after this season he will leave the Raptors and cold Canada to come back home to sunnyside California to play for the Lakers, playfully known as the purple and gold.
Following the trade reports that hit the internet saying that Leonard was prepared to sit out the entire season. He wanted to go to the Lakers and the Spurs in return sent him literally out of the country to Canada, the ultimate troll move by the franchise he played for seven years.
Leonard just turned 27 last month and is in the prime of his NBA career, why would he want to waste his prime playing for a team that lied to its star player, this after coming from a team he did not trust.
He should come play with LeBron James and the Lakers young core and win, win, win, win, win.
Ultimately, The Klaw as a top-5 player in the world, when healthy, will get what he wants like he’s digging his absurdly large 10 inch hands in a toy machine and based on reports what he wants is to be a Laker.