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Raptors Become Heavy Favorites to Acquire Kawhi Leonard

Kawhi Leonard of the San Antonio Spurs
Will Kawhi Leonard last a full season in Toronto? Photo by Stephen Lew/Icon Sportswire
  • Where do the odds say Kawhi Leonard will play in the 2018-19 NBA season?
  • Could the two-time All-Star be heading north?

In a shocking turn of events, there is a new favorite to acquire disgruntled Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard: the Toronto Raptors.

When reports first began surfacing of an impending breakup between Leonard and the San Antonio Spurs, it was said that Kawhi wanted to be a Laker. Then that was shot down when LeBron James signed with the Lakers in free agency, because the two-time Defensive Player of the Year wanted to lead his own team.

But while we sat back and read press clippings offers from the Lakers and Boston Celtics, the Raptors have not just entered the scene, but become the heavy betting favorites to land the 2014 NBA Finals MVP.

Odds Where Kawhi Leonard Will Play in 2018-19

Team Odds Where Kawhi Leonard Will Play for the 2018-19 Season at MyBookie
Toronto Raptors +100
San Antonio Spurs +400
Los Angeles Lakers +500
Los Angeles Clippers +600
Boston Celtics +800
Philadelphia 76ers +800
Milwaukee Bucks +1000
New York Knicks +1500
Cleveland Cavaliers +2000
Houston Rockets +2000
Brooklyn Nets +2500
FIELD +500

It’s one thing to simply say the Raptors are the betting favorites, but at even (+100) odds, MyBookie must have a very strong feeling Toronto GM Masai Ujiri has a legitimate offer for the Spurs on the table.

Any deal to bring Leonard to Toronto would likely result in four-time All-Star DeMar DeRozan going the other way, along with more young assets.

But after DeRozan completely disappeared in the final two games of the Raptors’ embarrassing second-round sweep at the hands of the Cavaliers, where he combined for 21 points on 8-of-23 shooting, it appears Toronto may be ready to move on from their all-time leading scorer (13,296 points).

DeRozan and Kyle Lowry have had multiple seasons to prove they can bring a championship to Toronto, and have always disappointed come playoff time. Some may argue that with LeBron James, who has eliminated the Raptors from the postseason each of the last three years, no longer in the East, it’s finally Toronto’s chance to make the NBA Finals.

But others would look at the Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers and say they will be far better teams next season than the 2017-18 Cavs were.

Kawhi Leonard
DeMar DeRozan

2 All-Star Appearances 4
1 NBA Championships 0
2 All-NBA Teams 2
16.3 PPG in Regular Season 19.7
16.9 PPG in Playoffs 21.9
54.9 eFG% in Regular Season 46.7
57.6 eFG% in Playoffs 42.2

With Nick Nurse taking over as the head coach in Toronto, and strictly pushing an offense premised on ball movement and effort from all five players on the defensive end, DeRozan may no longer fit.

You would think, however, that Ujiri would not be willing to part ways with DeRozan, and whatever else it takes to complete this trade, unless Leonard were willing to re-sign in Toronto. Could this be another Paul George scenario in the summer of 2019?

If I were wagering on this prop, the Raptors just offer such little value at +100. I’ll take the +400 odds of a deal not getting done before the start of the regular season, and Kawhi beginning the season with the Spurs.

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After receiving a bachelor's degree in communications, Matt spent two years with Rogers TV as a host, producer, and play-by-play commentator. He has been with us since 2016 and serves as SBD's editor-in-chief and sports betting expert.