And like that, nothing was the same.
Wednesday morning the Toronto Raptors traded away the face of their franchise who constantly reiterated wanting to play for one team during his career for someone who has reportedly no interest in playing for Toronto.
The Raptors wrapped Demar DeRozan, Jakob Poeltl and a protected first-round pick in a package and shipped them to San Antonio for Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green.
Being in Africa with Barack Obama did not stop Raptors General Manager Masai Ujiri from giving Raptors fans one of the most entertaining off-seasons they’ve ever had. And one thing he does is listen to the fanbase.
As the only NBA team in Canada, the franchise gets discredited and is not taken seriously by many.
Ujiri woke us all up. Days after getting swept by possibly one of the worst Cavalier teams taken to the finals, Raptors head coach Dwane Casey was fired. That marked the end of an era, as Casey took the franchise to 6 playoffs in his 8 years, including a first-ever eastern-conference appearance. But being unable to figure out a way to surpass King James and King of the East was the root of a culture reset.
Casey will now be the head coach of the Detroit Pistons, and assistant coach Rex Kalamian is returning to where he started his NBA career with the LA Clippers. Assistant coach Nick Nurse is now the head coach of the Toronto Raptors.
A roster change was then called for. Some people started saying Casey wasn’t the problem, but the players that let LeBron get in their head.
Ujiri let us know he wasn’t done and he was not playing around.
Tuesday night he called DeRozan to let him know what was about to go. Meanwhile, DeRozan took to his Instagram, where all posts have been deleted this past week, claiming there’s no loyalty in the league and that he was lied to by Toronto regarding a potential trade.
As reports involving the Raptors possibly trading DeMar DeRozan for Kawhi Leonard escalate, here is DeMar’s IG story: pic.twitter.com/Wbb72mw0qR
— Rachel Nichols (@Rachel__Nichols) July 18, 2018
There are fans that are as upset as DeRozan, some even starting a #DONTTRADEDEMAR hashtag on social media.
It’s conflicting, because the Raptors fan base, and sport media personalities always said Toronto needed a superstar. Now, in the two-time defensive player of the year, 2014 NBA champ, and Finals MVP, a superstar will be playing in the Scotiabank Arena (recent name change from Air Canada Centre).
But the Raptors had a loyal player in DeRozan. During his free agency, he refused to meet with any other teams. He was loyal to a franchise that had lost all of its past superstars in Vince Carter and Chris Bosh. He helped this team become one of the most successful in the league. He was the all-time leader in games played (675), minutes (22986) and points (13,296). He gave this city something to be proud of during the regular season. And when he came forward with his depression, the city had his back just like he said he had theirs.
Should the city be excited about Leonard starting for the Raptors in October for the new season? Will he even play? NBA fans only saw him play in a total of 9 games last season due to a hip injury, and he didn’t even sit on the bench during the post-season to support his squad. Right now, optimistic fans are thinking now there will actually be a Raptor playing defense, while realistic fans are wondering if he will even suit up. Reports say Leonard isn’t even keen on playing in Toronto.
Yes, it gets cold in the winter.
Yes, lots of people doubt the Raptors team.
Yes, this team has never been to the NBA finals.
But this team needs dedication. This team has an entire country backing it, and that’s something Leonard had not experienced yet.
Is Ujiri a wizard for pulling this off?
It seems like it. He was able to keep the young core in Fred Vanvleet, OG Ananoby and Paskal Siakam. Plus, if Leonard decides he truly is unhappy and leaves after next year, the Raptors keep their 2019 first round draft pick.
But NBA Twitter seemed discombobulated Wednesday morning.
We lost Casey, DeMar and the ACC in like the period of a month. Fam
— petty le pew (@VtecPapi) July 18, 2018
The Raptors traded one of their franchise players (who has 3 years left on contract) for a one-year rental who doesn’t even want to play for their team. There’s no loyalty in the NBA.
— Dante Turo (@DanteOnDeck) July 18, 2018
What’s not being mentioned in all of this is Toronto probably has the best player in the East now. Assuming Kawhi is Kawhi.
— Kevin Rashidi (@KevinRashidi) July 18, 2018
It’s a fair trade. DeRozan and Kawhi contributed roughly the same amount in the playoffs last year
— Doug Gottlieb (@GottliebShow) July 18, 2018
masai pulled off a kawhi trade without giving up all the assets nobody wanted to give up and he did it with a blackberry. wow.
— alex (@steven_lebron) July 18, 2018
Tracy McGrady was on verge of something special, skipped to ORL. Vince Carter hurdled 7-fters, forced his way to NJN. Chris Bosh let his dreads bounce in the post, then chased rings in MIA. DeMar DeRozan embraced everything about being a Raptor; TOR about to drop-kick him to SAS
— Michael Lee (@MrMichaelLee) July 18, 2018
obama negotiated the Iran nuclear deal & you think he was gonna let masai put og or siakam in the trade?
— Joe Wolfond (@joey_doubleyou) July 18, 2018
Kawhi said he wanted to go home to LA & the Spurs chose to send him too a different country lolololololol
— jefe🏅 (@jefegocrazy) July 18, 2018
Kawhi bout to pull an Alonzo Mourning 🤦🏽♂️ real Raps fans remember
— DC (@sweetermandan) July 18, 2018
Kawhi; I guess
Tim: bye pic.twitter.com/urYGpjtv2f
— SB Nation (@SBNation) July 18, 2018
Just to recap:
– Toronto gets Kawhi AND Danny Green
– If Kawhi no-shows, sucks, doesn't fit etc. — Toronto gets to keep its pick (top 20 protected)
– Toronto doesn't lose ANY of its best assets, keeps OG and Siakam
This, folks, is a robbery
— Matt Ellentuck (@mellentuck) July 18, 2018
Kawhi better stop acting like a 10 year old and pack his bags and get ready to play for a first class organization who just traded away their “face of the franchise” for him.
— Kevin Rashidi (@KevinRashidi) July 18, 2018
“See how they did Kawhi? No loyalty. KD was right all along. It’s time y’all realized that.” -RealSportsFan1921 pic.twitter.com/BZQqZidiRc
— X (@XLNB) July 18, 2018