After a series of internet-breaking moves early in the morning on Saturday, the Toronto Raptors once again find themselves in a familiar spot: mediocrity. From July 18th, 2019, until 1:59AM this morning, we were living in a dream, and we’ll have the pictures, videos, film, merchandise, and memories until the day we die. But it’s back to reality now. We all knew that this was a serious possibility, and now we’re here. Like all great things, it had to come to an end. Just like taking an extraordinarily luxurious vacation that lasted 353 days, we have finally returned home after what feels like a 6 day flight.
To recap: Danny Green is a Laker, Kawhi Leonard is a Clipper, and oh yeah, Paul George is too.
Maybe the part of it all that stings the most are the details that ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski broke this morning: that The Raptors were in the running for not only Kawhi Leonard, but for Paul George too, until the very last minute. In every prolonged moment of Kawhi’s decision, while Lakers fans and fake insiders were banging their pots and pans, not a peep got out from the Raptors, Thunder, or Clippers, who were all involved in a fierce bidding war over Paul George. In the end, the Clippers essentially traded their future for what they viewed as a package of both Kawhi Leonard and the 3rd place MVP. They are now short of 5 first round picks, Danilo Gallinari, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, and will have the worse of the Thunder and Clippers’ 2023 and 2025 first round picks,
If this sounds like an unprecedently massive package, that’s because it is. This is literally the largest package of picks sent one way in a trade in NBA history, never mind the players who went along with it.
Off the bat, we can conclude that the Raptors did not have the assets to swing a trade of this caliber. Even if we were willing to include Siakam, Anunoby, VanVleet, and a couple picks (because Masai would never trade 7 of them), Sam Presti and the Thunder would have favoured The Clippers’ package.
Kudos to Jerry West though. Obviously they gave a truckload to be contenders this season, and sacrificed the next 7+ years of their franchise to contend for what we already have: a championship. I hope Kawhi can bring it to them this year, before the Giannis-lead Raptors stop them in 2021.
It’s been a whirlwind of a past 8 hours, and I’m still struggling to wrap my head around the fact that it’s over, but I do want to say this – a PSA to all my fellow Raptors fans: We’ve seen much worse. We’ve watched seasons where Andrea Bargnani, Jarrett Jack, and Reggie Evans were leading our team. That’s a far cry from Kyle Lowry, Pascal Siakam, and Marc Gasol. In between those two phases? A championship. Look down at the championship hat you bought. That gold threading with our logo on it would not have existed without all of the great professionals who lead us to our first ever victory. At the front of that group was L.A. Clippers forward, Kawhi Leonard. Don’t be mad at him. He came, he saw, and he conquered. Yes, he left us, but not without first bringing us what we couldn’t have even thought of dreaming about. So hang #2 in the rafters. Keep the Kawine And Dine sticker in the window until the day your business shuts down. Continue to wear his jersey with pride, and keep his picture as your lock screen. Make a post on social media, and use #ThankYouKawhi to show him our unconditional love. Put a statue of the shot outside the Scotiabank Arena, so that every time you walk by it, the excitement runs through your veins one more time, and puts a smile on your face, because Kawhi Leonard – one of the greatest to ever play – was a Raptor.