By Matthew Geagan, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) -- Kawhi Leonard is finally getting traded.
After months of rumors, speculation, and broken-down trade talks, the Spurs have finally found a deal they like for their unhappy star. San Antonio has reportedly agreed to send Leonard and Danny Green to the Toronto Raptors for four-time All-Star DeMar DeRozan, Jakob Poeltl and a protected 2019 first-round pick, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski. The trade is expected to become official Wednesday morning.
While the move cost Toronto DeRozan, it immediately propels them back into the conversation in the Eastern Conference with the Celtics and 76ers. The Raptors were in need of a shakeup after losing in the second round of the playoffs for the second straight season, and landing a former Finals MVP and two-time Defensive Player of the Year should give them a jolt for 2018-19.
From a Celtics standpoint, their path to the NBA Finals just got a little more difficult, but they should still feel pretty good about themselves. With Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward both returning from injury, joining forces with talented youngsters Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum, Boston should still head into next season as the favorites to win the East. But with the Raptors trading out the offensively gifted DeRozan for the all-around play of Leonard, an automatic trip to the finals no longer feels like a sure thing for Boston.
The Celtics were in on the Leonard trade talks, but were reportedly reluctant to include Irving, Hayward, Tatum, Brown or Al Horford. Boston's trade offer to San Antonio reportedly centered around future picks, which is not what the Spurs were looking for in return for a player like Leonard.
The move does come with some risk for the Raptors, but it also gives them some flexibility after next season. DeRozan had three years left on his contract while Leonard is entering the final year of his deal, and he's made it known that he wants to sign with the Los Angeles Lakers in free agency next offseason. Toronto will be able to offer him a five-year, $190 million contract (other teams would only be able to offer a four-year, $141 million pact), but they'll have to convince Leonard over the next season that the Raptors are the place he wants to be. If not, they can let him walk and start a rebuild, no longer hampered by the long-term commitment to DeRozan.
Wining would obviously help Toronto's cause in re-signing Leonard, though he doesn't guarantee the Raptors anything in that department. But he certainly helps their case in an Eastern Conference that now appears to be a three-team race again.
for more features.