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DBB on 3: Kawhi, Casey and the East

You may have heard Kawhi got traded? We discuss

NBA: Los Angeles Clippers at San Antonio Spurs Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

So yeah, it’s slow around here so let’s discuss topics not necessarily Pistons-related and attempt to somehow tangentially make them relevant to the Pistons, shall we?

So there’s this Kawhi Leonard fella. You may have heard he wasn’t a happy camper and neither was his camp. So in a very un-Spursian move he got his wish and got traded. To the Toronto Raptors. For a decent but far inferior player. Who won this trade?

We discuss.

The Raptors you may remember as the team that kindly jettisoned their former coach Dwane Casey so we could swoop in and return him swiftly to head coaching once again. Where might his head be at after all of this?

We discuss.

The East maybe, just maybe, got a lot more interesting with Kawhi. But where are his head and his quad at?

We discuss.

1. What grade do you give the Spurs on the Kawhi Leonard/DeMar DeRozan trade? The Raptors?

Ryan Pravato: C+/B- to the Spurs. They immediately get an All-Star and a pretty intriguing young, mobile center in Poeltl in exchange for a top-5 player in the NBA. B to the Raptors because they didn’t have to give up a ton and let’s not act like the Raptors were going to go anywhere with DeRozan as their best player. Plus, they’ve just shed so much money. Raptors could be rebuilding from 2019 on out, which is probably not a bad thing.

Ben Gulker: C for the Spurs. I hope Pop likes mid-range jumpers, because wow, that roster sure looks like it will take a lot of them.

B for the Raptors. They get one chance to win the East before Kyle Lowry starts aging like milk, and if/when Kawhi leaves, they are one step closer to blowing it up.

David Fernandez: Spurs get a B-. SA scoops a ready-now player in DeRozan, a young player in Poeltl, and a future asset (albeit heavily protected). Just goes to show how difficult it is to get equal value when trading away a disgruntled star on an expiring deal.

Raptors nab a A-, with possibility this becomes an A+++ if they can convince Leonard to stay. They’re a better team with Leonard now, and if he leaves, they didn’t hemorrhage their future by sending all of their young players out the door.

Steve Hinson: Spurs: D

They now have two of the top three in the league in midrange attempts from last season. Color me skeptical about building a team entirely around the midrange jumper. I have to think there could have been an offer out there that would have made for a better fit for both short term and long term.

Raptors: A

Yes, DeRozan is a good player. Yes, Kawhi may walk at the end of the year. Yes, his injuries are concerning. But that’s the type of risk you take for getting a top five player. After LeBron left to the Lakers, the question was “Who is the best player in the Eastern Conference?” We have a clear answer to that question now and he plays for the Raptors. That immediately puts them as favorites in the East and could be what finally gets them into the Finals.

Lazarus Jackson: Raptors get a B+ because we’re not sure of Kawhi’s health - I THINK he’s healthy but who knows. The Spurs get a C - they were compelled to trade Kawhi and wanted to remain competitive, and acquiring DeMar DeRozan is definitely a way that you can do that. I don’t know HOW competitive they will be - the Western conference looks very tough this year - but they accomplished their goal. Whether or not that should have been the correct goal is the question.

2. I’m sure outwardly he’ll handle this as new Pistons’ coach but inwardly how do you think ex Raptors’ coach Dwane Casey feels about this?

Ryan Pravato: Nothing much. Casey is too busy watching film on Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond and thinking of how he’ll blend them in with this better than anticipated roster.

Ben Gulker: If this bothers Casey, the Pistons hired the wrong guy. If any piece of him remains in Toronto, yikes.

David Fernandez: “Wish I got to coach Kawhi Leonard, smh” ALSO “LOL @ Nick Nurse, good luck lmfaooooo”

Steve Hinson: I’m sure he’s empathetic toward DeRozan, as the two seemed to be tight. But I doubt he has any regret about missing out on the chance to coach Kawhi.

Lazarus Jackson: I’m sure Dwane, like every other coach, would love to be able to coach Kawhi Leonard - and after listening to Bruce Arthur of the Toronto Star on the Lowe Post podcast, I think the Raptors would love to have Dwane back to coach him. I’m sure he’s a little miffed, but not as miffed as he would be if he didn’t have a job right now.

3. Do you think Kawhi comes in healthy and is professional? If so (or not) how do you see the East’s top 8 finishing 2018/19?

Ryan Pravato: From a pure NBA fans’ point of view, I hope Kawhi comes in and takes care of his business.

Right now the Pacers and Raptors are tough to slot -- then you have the clear favorites in Boston and Philadelphia (health withstanding). After that it’s between Detroit, Washington and Milwaukee for slots 5 through 7. Miami, Brooklyn and mayybeeee the Bulls could compete for a spot and squeeze in. The Pacers have three young players who all have high ceilings (according to me), so I’m really looking to them to break up the Celtics-Sixers love fest in the East. Pacers are low-key quite dangerous and have a deeper team now with a couple budding stars.

Ben Gulker: No real idea about his health or his attitude at this point. Of all the players and franchises of which I would have expected drama, the Spurs are at the very bottom of that list. But, Kawhi has everything to lose by not being a professional, so I have to think he will be.

If Kawhi is at 100%, this puts the Raps in a good place against Boston, but doesn’t impact anyone outside of the top 3 in the East, including Detroit.

David Fernandez: Kawhi’s name has been dragged through the mud by A LOT of two-bit journalists, plus he has to prove to 30 NBA teams that he’s healthy for the 2019-2020 season when he’s an UFA. So yes, I think he’ll come correct to Toronto.


1. Boston

2. Toronto

3. Philly

4. Indiana

5. Milwaukee

6. Washington

7. Detroit

8. Miami

Steve Hinson: I think so. I think the pendulum of “Oh Kawhi is so great” has swung too far the other direction of “Oh Kawhi is so petulant!” The top eight next season seems pretty well set, that the Raptors, Celtics, 76ers, Pacers, Bucks, Pistons, Wizards, and Heat will all be there in some (and perhaps that) order. The bottom seven in the league all seem very unlikely to be competitive.

Lazarus Jackson: I honestly don’t know if Kawhi will be healthy. I assume he will be professional (as he was as a Spur - taking control of your rehabilitation is no crime). Either way, it’s entirely too early for a conference ranking.


What do you all think? Please copy/paste and give us your thoughts below.

1. What grade do you give the Spurs on the Kawhi Leonard/DeMar DeRozan trade? The Raptors?

2. I’m sure outwardly he’ll handle this as new Pistons’ coach but inwardly how do you think ex Raptors’ coach Dwane Casey feels about this?

3. Do you think Kawhi comes in healthy and is professional? If so (or not) how do you see the East’s top 8 finishing 2018/19?