Toronto Raptors guard DeMar DeRozan was the first player informed of the blockbuster trade that upon its completion will send him in a package to the San Antonio Spurs in exchange for disgruntled San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard, and let’s just say the four-time All-Star wasn’t too happy.
“Told one thing and the outcome another,” DeRozan wrote in an Instagram story early Wednesday morning, suggesting the Raptors informed him he would not be included in a rumored deal for Leonard. “Can’t trust ’em. Ain’t no loyalty in this game. Sell you out quick for a little bit of nothing.”
“Soon you’ll understand,” he added, before signing off for the night: “Don’t disturb.”
DeMar DeRozan’s Instagram story right now … 😳 pic.twitter.com/NTzUcWWtc1
— Yahoo Sports NBA (@YahooSportsNBA) July 18, 2018
DeRozan signed a five-year, $139 million max contract to stay with the team that drafted him ninth overall in 2009, committing to a Raptors core that was coming off the franchise’s first Eastern Conference finals appearance in 2016. His friendship with All-Star backcourt partner Kyle Lowry has been the foundation of unprecedented success in Toronto. The 28-year-old DeRozan is a lethal scorer at the rim and from mid-range who finished eighth in the NBA’s MVP balloting this past season.
The debate over the absence of loyalty in the NBA has gained steam in recent years. Fans and teams will point to Kevin Durant’s decision to leave the Oklahoma City Thunder to sign with the Golden State Warriors team that eliminated them in the seven-game 2016 Western Conference finals. And players will point to Isaiah Thomas, who played through a hip injury and his sister’s death to lead the Boston Celtics to the 2017 East finals, only to be traded for Kyrie Irving to the team that eliminated them.
DeRozan wasn’t breaking news by calling out the business side of the NBA, although he might have helped break news of the actual trade. But the deal stings no less for DeRozan, who was genuinely invested in the Raptors’ success and has spent much of his adult life raising a family in Toronto.
On the flip side, the Raptors did not sell him out for “a little bit of nothing.” Leonard is a top-three talent when healthy, challenged only by Durant and LeBron James, and that kind of player can elevate a franchise from Eastern Conference also-ran to Finals contender overnight. Still, that’s not the argument you want to hear when your GM wakes you up at 4 a.m. telling you to pack your bags.
Things could get awkward if both DeRozan and Leonard accept their USA Basketball camp invites and show up next week in Las Vegas, where Spurs coach Gregg Popovich will be calling the shots.
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