Kawhi Leonard and DeMar DeRozan

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Get In Front Of A Camera, Kawhi

Stop hiding from the Spurs and everyone else.

July 19, 2018 - 9:21 am

It’s been just over 24 hours since the announcement of the Kawhi Leonard-DeMar DeRozan trade and the shockwaves are still rippling. As I said yesterday, this trade isn’t a one-day story, it’s a one-year story and it’s already proving to be that. 

It has already become gospel that Kawhi doesn’t want to play in Toronto. But the Sporting News is taking it one step further, reporting that “There have been indications that he would sit out the entire season if necessary, and though that step would be drastic and unprecedented in today's game, Toronto has forced the situation into uncharted territory by acquiring a player who has made it clear he does not want to be there.”

Let me repeat that first part of the sentence again: “There have been indications that he would sit out the entire season if necessary

Okay, wait, what? Sit out the entire season because he doesn’t like Toronto?!?

Before people start freaking out and panicking over Kawhi Leonard holding out the whole year and what that would mean – and yes, NBA Reddit, I know about the suggestion that he should enter Canada illegally, declare refugee status, and then get sent back to the United States, thus forcing the Raptors hand – let’s pump the brakes a little.

If he sits out the entire season, he’ll lose 20 million and, due to a clause in the CBA, would run the risk of losing his free agent status for next year. That’s an awful lot to give up just because you don’t want to go to Toronto. You have to really, really, really not want to go somewhere if you’re willing to risk that. 

There are cities I might not like, and let me be clear, I like Toronto. I really like Toronto. But even if I didn’t love Toronto the way that I do, I would not pay 20 million dollars and risk my future free agency just because I didn’t like Toronto.

Hell, it’s got the tallest free-standing structure in the Western Hemisphere. Forget 20 million, that’s worth the trip alone. And that’s before we get to The Beaches, award-winning restaurants, and Canada’s only museum devoted entirely to ceramics.

So all you morons with your witty “flannel as currency” and “Prime Minister Bryan Adams” jokes can step off. Kawhi’s not going to delay going to Canada so that he can miss the denim harvest. And the Raptors aren’t going to pay him in maple syrup and pelts.  

Kawhi Leonard has more than 20 million reasons to show up in Toronto. And with the exchange rate, it’s more than 26 million loonies to show up in Toronto. You really want to give up all of that? For who? For what?

If Kawhi actually does sit out the season because he doesn’t want to be with the Raptors, he doesn’t have a leg problem. He has a head problem. 

But I doubt that happens. This feels like sabre-rattling at best and pure speculation at worst. 

That said, the fact that it’s gotten to this point, the fact that idea would even come up, says a lot about how Kawhi has lost control of this story. He’s one of the best players in the league and that’s getting lost in all of this. He’s now on the verge of coming off as one of the kookiest players in the league. 

If part of the idea of wanting out of San Antonio was to get to raise his profile, and even that suggestion is debatable, he’s raising his profile, he’s just doing it in all the worst ways. 

So now would be a really good time to get in front of a mic and explain his side. Because from the outside, it seems like complete chaos. From the outside, it seems like he and his advisors have no plan. Well, aside from that plan to hide him when the Spurs came to check in on him. 

He might have a really good reason for wanting out of San Antonio. And a really good reason for not wanting to go to Toronto, but we wouldn’t know it because he won’t say it. Get in front of a camera, Kawhi.  Stop hiding from the Spurs and everyone else. Get in front of a camera, and own it, before you do any more damage to your rep and cred.