Kawhi Leonard, the next-best thing to landing LeBron James this free agency, is going to the Toronto Raptors.
The San Antonio Spurs agreed to trade its superstar along with Danny Green in exchange for Toronto’s face of the franchise DeMar DeRozan, Jakob Poeltl, and a protected 2019 first-round pick.
The deal (at least in theory) strengthens the Raptors, while hints at a rebuilding of sorts for the Spurs.
Las Vegas oddsmakers slashed Toronto’s 2018-19 NBA championship odds on the news from 60/1 to 20/1. The Westgate SuperBook also shortened its chances on winning the Eastern Conference from 7/1 to 4/1.
Leonard has played his entire career in San Antonio, but the 27-year-old sought a trade after an injury-plagued year that brought him to odds with Spurs coaches and ownership.
DeRozan has also played his entire career with one team. The 28-year-old holds all-time marks for games played and total points scored for the Raptors.
As for the Spurs, their title odds lengthened from 80/1 to 200/1.
DeRozan was none too pleased to learn of his trade to the Spurs. Sources close to the player recently told ESPN that Raptors officials had informed DeMar that he would not be traded.
Be told one thing & the outcome another. Can’t trust em. Ain’t no loyalty in this game. Sell you out quick for a little bit of nothing,” DeRozan said on social media.
Leonard also might not be too thrilled with being shipped up north to Toronto. The 2014 NBA champ was rather clear with San Antonio that he wished to be traded to the Los Angeles Lakers. ESPN reports Leonard told San Antonio’s front office he has no desire to play in Toronto.
Kawhi will become a free agent next summer. Toronto will be able to offer him a five-year, $190 million contract, while the max offer from other teams will be four years, $141 million due to the salary cap.
LeBron & Co.
With LeBron signing with the Los Angeles Lakers, the power shift of the NBA’s two conferences tilted even more in favor of the West.
Two-time defending champion Golden State, which only became better this offseason by adding four-time All-Star DeMarcus Cousins to make its starting lineup an NBA All-Star team, is the heavy 2018-19 favorites at 4/7. Boston is next, but only because oddsmakers think it’s nearly unfathomable that the Warriors won’t advance to their fifth consecutive NBA Finals.
The Celtics are at 5/1. King James’ Lakers are next at 6/1, down slightly from 7/1 prior to the Leonard/DeRozan trade.
Many believe Leonard will become a Laker at some point over the next 12 months, either by virtue of a trade with Los Angeles, or the superstar accepting a deal in free agency this time next summer.
Regardless, oddsmakers don’t believe LeBron will find a way to win an NBA title during his four-year contract in Los Angeles. “Will the LA Lakers win the NBA Championship by the 2021-2022 NBA Finals?” is at Yes +150, No -180.
The line implies a winning chance of 40 percent. A $100 bet and the Lakers winning their first NBA title since 2010 nets $150.