The Toronto Raptors have not shied away from making big moves that turned heads. After what was considered to be a phenomenal season at the time that saw them finish first place in the Eastern Conference in the regular season, they once again came apart at the seams in the playoffs as LeBron swept them away without much of a problem at all. As a result, they ended up firing the Coach of the Year Dwane Casey. So to say that they knew that they needed to make a bold move in order to fulfill their promise would be an understatement.
They made the ultimate move on Wednesday via a trade with the San Antonio Spurs, capitalizing on the unhappiness of small forward Kawhi Leonard to pounce and capture one of the premier names in the current game. It did come at a cost, though, for the Raptors in order to get him. The biggest piece of that puzzle being DeMar DeRozan, a player that was supposed to be the ‘Kobe Bryant of Toronto.’ It’s a massive move that has quite a few players questioning the loyalty of the Raptors to DeRozan.
But the argument will be that this is the move that has to be moved to strike now. The Raptors have had several good seasons in a row in the regular season only to fall apart once the playoffs begin. DeRozan was around for those, whether you like it or not. The Raptors feel like they had to make a move in order to win now, and they know they have got to pounce right now. Even if Leonard, a player with serious game-changing ability at both ends of the floor, has one year on his deal remaining it is still worthwhile.
The reason? LeBron is now in the Wild West. That means the East is wide open. Sure, the Boston Celtics, once thought contenders in this sweepstakes, and the Philadelphia 76ers are improving. But their time could be pushed back a year, if the Raptors gel well and get the most out of Kawhi Leonard. That simply means that even if he leaves after the year that they could make it to the Finals and at least a shot at whomever comes out of the gauntlet from the West. In the end, this move will be judged at the end of this season, and possibly even further beyond.