The San Antonio Spurs traded Kawhi Leonard to the Toronto Raptors.
Wednesday’s deal sends Leonard to the Raptors in exchange for a package included all-star guard DeMar DeRozan.
The Raptors received Leonard and Danny Green in exchange for DeRozan, Jakob Poeltl and a protected 2019 first-round pick. ESPN reported that the pick is Top 20. It would convert to two second-round picks after a year.
— Keith Pompey (@PompeyOnSixers) July 18, 2018
This a major blow to the 76ers, who were in talks with the Spurs about acquiring Leonard. This move also means the Sixers struck out on all three of their coveted A-list off-season additions.
First, one of their targets — Paul George — signed a four-year, $137 million deal to return to the Oklahoma City Thunder. Strike one.
Then, the NBA’s No. 1 offseason target — LeBron James — signed to a four-year, $153 million contract with the Los Angeles Lakers. Strike two.
The Sixers have been vocal and aggressive in their desire to bring a star player to Philadelphia this offseason, so things surely aren’t heading in the direction they wanted. The Sixers image as a free-agent destination took a hit on Tuesday when Nemanja Bjelica backed out of his commitment to play in Philly this upcoming season.
Leonard is entering the final year of his contract. The Sixers were confident that they could sway him to pick up his player option or re-sign with them via free agency next summer.
According to reports, Leonard isn’t excited about being traded to the Raptors. Toronto president of basketball operation Masai Ujiri is determined to convince Leonard to stay with the Raptors past this season.
But the two-time NBA defensive player of the year has expressed a desire to be traded to his hometown Los Angeles Lakers or Los Angeles Clippers. As a result, potential trading partners were not willing to give into the Spurs’ steep trade demands if he’s not going to re-sign with their team.
The Sixers were no different.
“If the right situation comes where we can acquire someone that can really add value to our program and the cost of it isn’t prohibitive, then we’ll move forward and do that,” Sixers co-managing partner Josh Harris said last week. “But if that doesn’t come along for whatever reason, then we’ll keep moving forward with our program.”
The Spurs kept trying to raise the ante for Leonard, saying that another team is offering more, according to sources.
The Sixers’ most realistic package to submit to San Antonio involved Dario Saric, Robert Covington and the Miami Heat’s 2021 unprotected first-round pick. However, the Spurs want two players — again, believed to be Saric and Covington — and three future first-round picks.
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