In mid-July, LeBron shook the entire NBA world when he announced that he was going to be a member of the Los Angeles Lakers. Some thought this was the biggest news of free agency, but things have just gotten a little more exciting.
On July 18, the San Antonio Spurs officially announced that they would be trading Kawhi Leonard to the Toronto Raptors for Demar DeRozan, along with others.
This trade set social media on fire.
Several players reacted to the trade via Twitter. One of the more interesting responses was from guard Isaiah Thomas, who is now a member of the Denver Nuggets after being traded twice.
Isaiah Thomas, a guy who learned the hard way that loyalty in the NBA doesn’t exist, went to Twitter to respond. “Just learn from my story! Loyalty is just a word in this game SMH.” Essentially, he tells us that loyalty and business do not coexist in the NBA.
The NBA is a business, and mixing business and pleasure should not occur. Yet, what if you were told something and the complete opposite occurs? DeMar took it to Instagram to express his reaction to the trade.
“Be told one thing and the outcome another. Can’t trust em. Ain’t no loyalty in this game. Sell you out quick for a little bit of nothing…” DeRozan wrote.
In the Instagram post above, DeMar was alluding to the conversation he and Raptors President Masai Ujiri had at summer league.
Basically, Masai assured DeMar that he would not be going anywhere. In other words, amidst the trade deadlines, DeRozan would remain a Raptor.
DeMar did come to the same realization about the NBA, that there is no loyalty in this game of basketball. At the end of the day, the NBA is a business and each team has to do whatever is beneficial to them.
Many might ask what the big deal is, considering that players get traded all of the time. Yet, the scrutiny comes from whether or not this was purely a business decision.
Players are traded for various reasons. Either they no longer want to play for the team, or the General Manager decides that the player is not a good fit for the teams’ needs. In this case, evidence proves that the Kawhi/DeMar trade was truly a business decision.
Let’s take a look at the facts.
Kawhi Leonard was extremely unhappy with how the Spurs health personnel handled his quad injury. This frustration pressured the Spurs to try and create a trade scenario.
He did not want to remain a member of the Spurs, so the best move was to trade him. Nothing good could have come out of Kawhi remaining on a team that he was frustrated with; there would be constant tension and a lack of passion on Kawhi’s part.
Although DeMar was an unwilling participant, from a business perspective, this trade made sense. Kawhi wanted to leave anyway, so why not?
To put things in perspective, put aside the fact that Masai Ujiri “promised” DeMar he wasn’t going anywhere. If you are an owner or general manager, would you pass up on a versatile player like Kawhi Leonard?
At face value, Kawhi is a more diverse player. He is also more impactful than DeRozan. DeRozan is, without a doubt, a prolific scorer, but that’s about it.
Kawhi can dominate the floor on both ends, offensively and defensively. Arguably, Kawhi is the best two-way player in the game.
Most importantly, during Kawhi’s time with San Antonio, he was able to bring a championship there. In fact, he was named Finals MVP the same year (2014). Unfortunately, DeMar was unable to bring a championship to the city of Toronto.
Above all, Kawhi and DeMar were two athletes who were the center of their teams. Two guys who carried their team on their backs. Two guys who gave their cities everything they had to compete, but now are on different teams.
One who was relieved and the other, who felt betrayed.
The moral of this story is that at the end of the day, the NBA is a business where loyalty is just a word and no player is above being traded.