Last week, the Toronto Raptors made the move of the summer, trading their franchise player, Demar Derozan, as well as Jakob Poeltl and a first round pick to the San Antonio Spurs for disgruntled superstar Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green. This move, for both sides, was praised by many. The Raptors shed a salary and gained a player who, when healthy, is an MVP-calibre player, and a three-and-D expert with plenty of playoff experience, and the Spurs traded someone who they had no choice but to trade, and in return got a first-rounder, a four-time All-Star, and a budding young center with star potential.
However, this trade was also criticized by many, mostly fans of Toronto, and judged to be not only disloyal, but also as a bad move due to the common belief that Leonard wouldnt stay in the "6ix" past the 2018-'19 season, when his contract expires.
So, how can the Raptors keep the former NBA Finals MVP on their roster for longer?
1. If the Raptors offer Kawhi a max contract, it would be not only a year longer, but also have a higher annual salary. So, if it's all about the money to Kawhi, staying in Toronto would make sense.
2. Have Norman Powell's mother woo her old friend, who just so happens to be the mother of Kawhi Leonard. As he seems to be very family-oriented, (based on his uncle being his main influence in demanding a trade from the Spurs) the happiness of his family, especially his mother, in Toronto would be uge in convincing him to stay.
3. Win a championship. If the Raptors can somehow be the David to Golden State's Goliath this upcoming season and beat them in the Finals, don't be surprised if Kawhi decides to come back for another stint.
4. Have him work closely with one or both of OG Anunoby and Norman Powell this season. If he falls in to a sort of mentorship role with one of them, both who are primarily three-and-D guys just like he was when he was younger, it could convince him to keep on playing in Toronto due to his bond with whichever young player he feels closer to.
5. As fans, we need to hold Demar close to our hearts, but not blame Kawhi for the trade. It's not his fault, Raptors fans. It's not his fault. If, as a fan base, as a city, even as a country, we can show him the same support we've shown countless other newcomers who came to fall in love with the city.
Whatever happens with Kawhi though, our future is looking birght, thanks to the "Bench Mob"