Loyalty, Loyalty, Loyalty
We should stop expecting loyalty in the NBA. Teams will always do what it takes to win and players will always want something else. Yeah, it would be great for a team to hold on to a franchise player his whole career but that very rarely happens. Even the greats don't stay with the team that drafted them. Jordan ended his career with the Wizards, LeBron has bounced between Cleveland and Miami before landing in Las Angeles, Kawhi wanted out of San Antonio and even Kobe once wanted a trade to Chicago.
With the recent trade between the Spurs and the Raptors, we've learned once again that the NBA is a strict business. DeMar DeRozan, Jakob Poeltl and a 2019 first round pick were traded to the Spurs in exchange for Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green. DeMar DeRozan notable was the Raptors' believed franchise player and a clear fan favorite. DeMar DeRozan took a $14 million discount from the available max back in 2016 when he signed his 5 year contract so that the team had more cap flexibility to sign other players. DeRozan was clearly hurt by the trade after supposedly being told by Toronto that he wouldn't be traded.
"Told one thing & the outcome another. Can't trust em. Ain't no loyalty in this game. Sell you out quick for a little bit of nothing..."- DeMar DeRozan
The outcome of the trade depends on the end of next season when it comes time for Kawhi Leonard to decide where he'll sign. In the meanwhile, Toronto may find themselves in better position to take on the Celtics and 76ers. The Raptors felt they wouldn't be able to get past them with the team they had. A healthy Kawhi spells trouble for the Eastern Conference that now finds itself without LeBron at the helm. Of course, that relies on Kawhi playing a full season after missing plenty of time due to injury as well as being hesitant to play in Toronto. The new look Raptors no longer have Coach of the Year, Dwane Casey, who was fired after a sweep by the Cavaliers.
DeRozan may be sad but at least he has the emotional backing of some of his old teammates. Another star who suffered a similar fate also took to the media: