According to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, the Raptors’ trade of DeMar DeRozan, Jakob Poeltl, and a first round pick for the San Antonio Spurs’ Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green is official. Why now? It’s simple really: Kawhi, the man of mystery who sat out most of the 2017-18 season, has gone through his physical examination with Toronto. The diagnosis? Apparently — and reportedly — all clear.
Kawhi Leonard has passed his physical with the Raptors, according to sources. The trade is now official.— Brian Windhorst (@WindhorstESPN) July 25, 2018
One of bigger gambles involved in Toronto’s trade for Leonard was obviously going to be his health. (I’ve got it ranked second behind next year’s free agency decision, but ahead of both the fear Kawhi would sit out, and the break-up/bad vibes with DeMar). Last season, the 27-year-old forward sat out all but nine games while dealing with a shoulder tear and a troublesome quadricep. While it’s unclear what exactly the situation was — did the Spurs mess up Leonard’s rehab? was Kawhi unhappy with how he was treated? how serious were or are any of these injuries? — the Raptors had to at least be concerned their incoming superstar was not whole.
We still don’t know how a clean physical will translate onto the court. At the very least, we know nothing was found by any of the Raptors’ medical people that would indicate a need to reverse the entire exchange. (And even if they had to, would the Raps want to now given all the bad blood with DeRozan?) All signs would therefore suggest Leonard is ready to pick up his professional career where he left off.
Nevertheless! Leonard hasn’t played a game since January 13, 2018 against Denver — a contest in which he had 19 and 8, with four assists, and four steals, while shooting 63 percent from the floor, by the way (I just fainted) — there’s no telling what rust has developed since then.
All we can do now is sit and wait for next season.
Which starts sometime in October.
About three months from now.