Finally out of San Antonio, Kawhi Leonard is now among the Boston Celtics’ biggest threats in the Eastern Conference as a Toronto Raptor. But that’s not a result of the Celtics backing off in their pursuit of the two-time Defensive Player of the Year.
In fact, Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge may have thrown every possible option San Antonio’s way in their unsuccessful attempts at landing Leonard. Ainge even opened up his treasure trove of viable draft pick capital.
“[As] all the reporting from this sort of trickled in, I think the Celtics offered most of their best draft picks,” ESPN’s Zach Lowe said on his podcast when talking about the Leonard move. “I don’t think the Celtics just offered, ‘You could have a bunch of our picks.’ I think some of the picks they own — at least two of the picks, if not all of them — that they own from other teams, including the Kings, Grizzlies and Clippers, I think those were all in the deal.”
In addition to their own, pick, the Celtics will have the higher of the Kings’ and 76ers’ first-rounder next year (unless the pick is the No. 1 overall, in which case the Celtics get the lower pick), a lottery-protected first-rounder from the Clippers in 2019 and 2020 (though it has the potential to become a second-rounder in 2022 if not conveyed), and a Memphis first-round selection that is top-eight protected next year, top-six protected in 2020, and unprotected in 2021 if not conveyed.
There’s a whole lot of value there, especially when talking about a Sacramento first and potential unprotected Grizzlies’ pick.
But Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich clearly wanted a win-now piece of sorts in exchange for the disgruntled Leonard, though, which they got from the Raptors in DeMar DeRozan. Without even getting into the salary-matching problems that a Leonard-to-Boston trade would have come with, it’s obvious that the Celtics were never going to offer a player of DeRozan’s caliber in their talks with the Spurs, as Ainge refused make any of their starting five available in their trade talks for Leonard.
Instead, the Celtics will go against Leonard with Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, and Kyrie Irving still in Green.
That’s not the worst fallout, to be honest.