They discuss the big Toronto/San Antonio trade, how going to Toronto affect’s Kawhi Leonard’s decision making in 2019, the OKC/Atlanta/Philadelphia deal, react to the Lakers signing Michael Beasley and much more.
Toronto Raptors Wiretap
The Toronto Raptors have signed Chris Boucher to a camp deal.
Boucher spent last season with the Golden State Warriors after signing a two-way contract with the club. He appeared in one game with the Warriors and averaged 11.8 points, 7.5 rebounds, 2.1 blocks and 22.2 minutes in 20 games for their NBA G League affiliate.
Masai Ujiri has apologized to DeMar DeRozan for what he describes as a "miscommunication" about the All-Star's status with the Toronto Raptors.
Sources close to DeRozan had told ESPN's Chris Haynes that DeRozan met with Toronto officials in Las Vegas during summer league and believed that he would not be traded.
"I had a conversation with DeMar at summer league, and I really want to leave it at that," Ujiri said Friday. "We spoke ... I think maybe my mistake was talking about what we expected going forward from him. So, not necessarily talking about a trade but what I expect from him going forward, and I think that's where the gap was."
The Raptors traded DeRozan to the San Antonio Spurs for Kawhi Leonard.
Ujiri added Friday: "In my job, I always have to assume we're going forward with the team that I have. If there was a miscommunication there, I do apologize to DeMar and his family and his representation. It's not what I meant."
Ujiri said the opportunity to acquire Leonard was too special to pass up.
"When you have a chance to get a top-five player, which doesn't come very often, I think you have to jump on it," he said.
Since the trade became official on Wednesday, the Toronto Raptors have had initial conversations with Kawhi Leonard and his camp. Sources say the talks were positive and there was no indication of a holdout or even an unwillingness to play for the Raptors.
The Raptors acquired Leonard and Danny Green in exchange for DeMar DeRozan, Jakob Poeltl and a 2019 first round pick.
Leading to the trade, Zach Lowe of ESPN reported Leonard's camp made it clear he had no interest in joining the Raptors.
Lowe also reported late Wednesday that the Spurs sent $5 million in cash to the Raptors as part of the deal, which is meant to cover the tax hit linked to Leonard's trade kicker.
While Kawhi Leonard has been silent with the media, Bruce Arthur of the Toronto Star said on the Back To Back Podcast on Wednesday that he has been in conversations with other impending 2019 free agents about possibly playing together.
"One thing I was told last night is that Kawhi Leonard had already been planning out his free agency for next year and he had already been in contact with other star players in the league and saying 'Hey, where might you want to play with me? What are we looking at?'
"It wasn't just L.A. he was talking about," added Arthur. "Brooklyn was maybe somewhere. They're going to have a ton of cap space. That might have been a possibility.
"So Kawhi has already been thinking ahead to pairing up and playing at a highest level."
The 2019 free agent class includes Leonard, Kyrie Irving, Jimmy Butler, Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant.
Gregg Popovich made it clear that he and Kawhi Leonard are parting on good terms following the trade with the Toronto Raptors.
"That's all ridiculous," Popovich said of reports that Leonard was a "bad teammate" late season.
"Kawhi was a great teammate all the way through," Popovich said. "He did his work, was no problem for anybody. But talking heads out there have to have stories, and I get it...But all those stories that denigrated him in that regard were unfortunate and inaccurate."
Popovich said he is confident that the blockbuster deal "will be a good situation for everybody involved."
"Kawhi obviously worked very hard to become the player he is and our staff worked very hard to help him get there and we wish him all the best as he moves on to Toronto. I think he will be great," Popovich said. "Danny Green will be missed. He's been here quite a while and was a big part of what we do on and off the court. He was a great community guy, and we are going to miss him very much."
Popovich said he and Leonard spoke often this summer "about a lot of different things, on and off the court" but that no agreement could be reached that would keep him in San Antonio.
"Attempts were made to see what would be best, and in the end this trade appeared and we felt this was the way to go," Popovich said.
The Boston Celtics were unwilling to trade any of their core players, including Jaylen Brown, without assurances about Kawhi Leonard's health and future plans.
The Celtics feel comfortable with their short-term and long-term outlook without gambling on Leonard.
Boston has tremendous depth on the wing with Brown, Jayson Tatum and Gordon Hayward, but the upside of their roster is questionable without a true MVP candidate like Leonard.
Though not noted in Zach Lowe's piece, the Celtics have long been linked to Anthony Davis and they could be waiting for the possibility he becomes available.
The San Antonio Spurs never showed interest in any trade packages for Kawhi Leonard that were heavy on picks and unproven players.
Gregg Popovich reportedly does not want to finish his NBA career in a rebuild.
San Antonio sought an All-Star in addition to other assets and managed to acquire one from the Toronto Raptors in DeMar DeRozan.
The Philadelphia 76ers' package of Robert Covington, Dario Saric and Miami's unprotected 2021 didn't move the needle for the Spurs.
Kawhi Leonard's camp made it clear to the Toronto Raptors and other teams over the past week that he had no interest in being traded there, according to sources.
The Raptors still moved forward with a trade for Leonard on Wednesday.
Masai Ujiri believes he can convince Leonard on the Raptors, but they could also trade him before the deadline if they get the sense he still intends to leave in free agency.
Leonard played in just nine games last season and the status of his quad is one of the biggest uncertainties in the NBA.
ESPN's Brian Windhorst, however, reports Leonard is expected to report to the Raptors.
“From what I understand in talking to people, Kawhi’s going to be a professional about it, he’ll accept the situation and try to make the best of it,” said Windhorst.
Gregg Popovich begged Kawhi Leonard on multiple occasions to let him announce that he would be out for the remainder of the season.
Leonard's uncertain status put Popovich in an uncomfortable position where he couldn't give the media an easy answer on his status. Even in the playoffs, Leonard's status remained uncertain.
Leonard left the Spurs on two occasions to rehab in New York.
Despite the issues, the Spurs believed the relationship with worth salvaging. Popovich met with Leonard in San Diego ahead of the draft in June.