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The basketball world was turned upside down this summer when the Toronto Raptors traded away the face of their franchise, DeMar DeRozan, to the San Antonio Spurs in exchange for Kawhi Leonard, a player who only played nine games the previous season.
Ever since the trade, the fanbase has been full of questions. Namely: why? DeRozan was a pillar of basketball for the Canadian squad. It quickly became clear that we wouldn’t get an answer to that one.
So now onto the most pressing question: can the Raptors keep him? Leonard’s contract expires at season’s end and the prospect of losing this star after giving up your best player for him is not a happy thought.
Rumors have been swirling all season linking the former Finals MVP to a potential landing spot in Los Angeles. After all, Kawhi is from California and the idea of playing close to home, on top of the promise of warmer weather than we could ever offer up in Canada, could seem appealing.
However, the Raptors have been working hard all season to give Leonard reasons to stay. Namely, attempting to build trust with the star.
Unfortunately, Leonard is prone to injury. But, this gave the Raptors an easy way to build trust with him by making sure their medical staff is there for him every step of the way.
From rest nights to practice accommodations, Leonard has been treated like royalty by allowing him to essentially dictate his schedule to make sure he’s comfortable.
No other team can sit at the negotiation tables in July and offer him this much established trust and experience in dealing with his particular situation. Coupled with the success he has been enjoying in the North this season, the Raptors are looking at the chance to make a pretty convincing case.
Originally Published on bandersnatch.ca