The Toronto Raptors are one of the dark-horse candidates to land San Antonio Spurs superstar Kawhi Leonard, according to a recent report.
The Action Network released their odds after the 2018 NBA Finals and the Raptors were considered huge longshots (2.94 percent implied probability) to land Leonard this offseason. Since then, oddsmakers have updated that to an implied probability of around 9.01 percent.
With that said, Tim Bontemps reported that they could be in play in a potential trade for the 2014 NBA Finals MVP (via Washington Post):
“The Toronto Raptors also generated buzz as a potential destination for Leonard. With LeBron James out of the Eastern Conference, perhaps Raptors President of Basketball Operations Masai Ujiri is willing to swing for the fences and move DeMar DeRozan or Kyle Lowry in such a deal.”
Leonard worked out for the organization when he was a draft prospect in 2011. He was clearly a favorite for the team and years later, he could be in the mix yet again.
San Antonio might favor such a deal because it allow them to send Leonard out of the Western Conference and prevent the forward from creating a potential super-team with the Los Angeles Lakers.
The Raptors “certainly considering” him at No. 5 overall on the night of the 2011 NBA Draft. Toronto was also reportedly looking to move back in the draft to select him but eventually decided on big man Jonas Valanciunas.
While the front office that selected Valanciunas has largely been replaced, there are still several notable decision-makers from that time who are with the team (and may have been enamored with Leonard back then).
Zach Lowe outlined a potential deal for the teams in a recent column (via ESPN):
“I know this might sound like a roll of the dice, but if I’m the Raptors, I would pick up the phone and tell Spurs GM R.C. Buford that he can choose a package featuring DeMar DeRozan. Yes, I get that you’d be giving up three years of DeRozan for Leonard’s expiring contract. But let’s face it: Toronto is third in the East pecking order behind Boston and Philadelphia. With LeBron out West, I would take a chance on Leonard if he looks healthy. Add Danny Green’s $10 million contract to Leonard, and a deal for DeRozan works.”
Otherwise, it’s unclear what a package for Leonard would look like from Toronto’s side.
As mentioned by Lowe, it would likely include a veteran like Lowry or DeRozan rather than a young asset, but the Raptors would be in a tough spot to lose either of their All-Stars next season.