It seems as though we get one major blockbuster trade per off-season these days, last year it was the Cavaliers trading Kyrie Irving to the Celtics for a package featuring Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder and what amounted to being Colin Sexton.
This year it is an even bigger superstar swap with Kawhi Leonard (along with Danny Green) heading to Toronto and DeMar DeRozan heading to San Antonio (with Jakob Poeltl).
Many people may be questioning the Raptors thought process in trading away an All-NBA performer in DeMar DeRozan for a disgruntled star who is heading into free agency next season, but it is worth the risk for the Raptors.
This feels eerily similar to the Paul George situation last summer, George wanted out of Indiana and wanted to play for the Lakers, most thought he would sign with the Lakers no matter what in free agency this summer. He was traded to the Thunder, built a connection with Russell Westbrook, was recruited in full force by the organization and one of the better fan bases in the NBA all season to make him feel at home and he ended up re-signing with the Thunder, even spurning a likely chance to team up with LeBron in LA.
The Raptors have a better roster top to bottom than the Thunder and were a 59 win team last season (with DeRozan of course) and boast one of the most passionate and fervent fan bases in the entire league as the one team representing the entire country of Canada.
Toronto is also a world-class city and a great place to live and be a star as Vince Carter once was almost 20 years ago for the Raptors as he vaulted himself into possibly being the most popular and marketable star in the league at one time.
If Leonard puts a halt to his new prima donna persona and actually buys in to prove his health and worth around the league next season in a contract year, the Raptors could be the favorites in the eastern conference and Leonard could fall in love in the process.
The Raptors had reached their ceiling with their Lowry and DeRozan combination, even with LeBron moving west, and it was time for them to take one big risk and tinker with their roster one more time to see if they can find lightning in a bottle.
If Leonard bolts next summer, they will have one season left on their deals for Kyle Lowry and Serge Ibaka and would be able to use them as expiring contracts next summmer or wait it out until 2020 and begin to rebuild from scratch.
I have a feeling Kawhi Leonard will find his new home north of the border.