The NBA is a cutthroat business, Deebo learned that Wednesday morning. After spending 9 seasons with the Raptors, elevating the team to a place we've never been, Derozan is forced to pack his bags for San Antonio. Our franchise leader in points and games played for a treacherous return - Kawhi Leonard.
The nerve of these NBA superstars...
After deteriorating his relationship with the Spurs mid January, opting to not play a single game with them after experiencing an injury he recovered from, Spurs head coach, Greg Popovic, started plotting his expulsion. Kawhi expressed his strong desire to play for his hometown LA, but Pop had different plans for the entitled superstar.
Greg Popovic is an OG of the hardwood, heading into his 23rd consecutive season coaching the Spurs. Coaches like him call the shots, not his players. Leonard wanted LA, but Popovic told him and his entourage to pack his bags for the North and don't forget your parka. Power move, Pop.
Never have I seen such a star studded trade with both players frustrated with their destinations. Deebo has publicly expressed his affinity for the 6ix numerous times throughout his career, and when he was a free agent twice during his tenure, he denied meeting with any other teams. Even hometown LA Lakers and LA Clippers who displayed a strong interest were rejected by the All-Star. Derozan made a major impression while playing here and even boasted the words "I am Toronto." He put jerseys on the backs of thousands of kids here in Toronto and Masai puts a knife in his. In Millennial fashion, Demar took to insta to reveal his heartbreak.
And to further explain his sorrow, here's what truly troubled Deebo.
The silver lining for Raps Nation - for the first time in history we have a top 5 player and the best player in the East. This was a gamble Masai needed to execute. The core of the Raptors which consisted of Derozan, Lowry, and Coach Of The Year, Dwane Casey, fractured the trust of the organization from the front office to the fan base this year in the playoffs. We demanded change after another disappointing playoff run, and change began real quick. Be careful what you wish for. That goes for both Kawhi and Rap fans.
After breaking more records this summer with the release of Scorpion, Drake thought it was time for summer vacation. But as Raptors Global Ambassador, he has his work cut out for him with selling Leonard on this city. Thankfully, with events like Caribana and OVO fest right around the corner, this may not be the hardest sell. Just ask Boston Globe writer, Adam Himmelsbach.
Or we can ask Dave Lozo of Vice Sports and The Athletic.
Say it louder for the people in the back, Dave.
Unfortunately, Dennis Robertson AKA Leonard's uncle, who assumes the role as chief advisor and unofficial spokesperson for Kawhi, may be tough to sell. He has attempted to parlay Kawhi's success into his own marketing firm using Leonard as the centerpiece. Uncle Dennis is apparently the primary reason why Leonard's relationship with the Spurs diminished and he plays an impactful role with guiding his nephew. Ever since the murder of Kawhi's father, who was shot in the head at their own family car wash in Compton, Uncle Dennis stepped up as a pivotal male figure for the former playoff MVP. Similar to Lavar Ball, Dennis is that loudmouth uncle at the family BBQ who tells you he could have been in the NFL if it wasn't for some knee injury that held him back. And now they both continue to push their own personal agendas through the success of family. Uncle Dennis wants his nephew to be the face of his marketing firm in a major NBA market, such as Philly, LA, or NYC. Not cold azz Canada.
The Canadian basketball landscape is changing rapidly. In the past 5 years, Toronto has sent more players to the NBA than NYC. The projected first overall in the 2019 NBA Draft, RJ Barret, hails from Toronto and will mark the 3rd first overall in 6 years from the 6ix.
The Raptors have been one of the strongest and most consistent teams in the east for several years now. Winning 4 Atlantic division titles in the past 5 years and earning the number 1 seed in the conference in 2017-2018 behind a franchise record 59 wins. Now with LAbron James headed to the west, the Raps are eastern conference favourites. Although, the Sixers and Celtics have a young and talented team, they don't possess the fire power or depth of Toronto. The 6ix has a tendency of winning over the hearts of athletes who come here and perform. It's rare an athlete leaves Toronto without penning their fixation of the city through a Player's Tribune article. This city has a lot to offer that other cities can't. Such as a 5 year contract at roughly 190m, oppose to other teams who can only offer 4 years at 141m.
Worst case - After we lose to Golden State Warriors in the finals, Kawhi leaves town for LA and we open up plenty of cap space for a heavy lineup of free agents. We gave up a protected first round pick and Jakob Poeltl, who is essentially replaceable.
Either way, Demar is getting one of the largest standing ovations in sport history when he returns as a Spur to the ACC ( not Scotiabank Arena) and his legacy will live forever.
So pack your bags Leonard, but leave that attitude in Texas.
And thank you, Deebo. You will always be King of The North.