It obviously didn’t come out of left field

It obviously didn’t come out of left field, as Kawhi Leonard made it known to the Spurs organization that he badly wanted to be dealt. And it puts a definitive punctuation mark on what had been an enchanted two-decade run of success in San Antonio. But the swap between the Spurs and the Raptors is fascinating for a handful of other reasons too.

For starters, it’s not often that a player of Leonard’s age and caliber joins a team that’s coming off a near-60-win season. (We’ve seen crazier things, of course. But still.) A healthy Leonard would be an obvious upgrade over Toronto All-Star DeMar DeRozan, largely because of how otherworldly Leonard is on the defensive end. For a while, it looked as if Toronto’s window might be closing — Kyle Lowry is 32, the Celtics and Sixers are young and loaded, and no matter what the Raptors did, they couldn’t find a way to beat LeBron in the Eastern Conference playoffs. But this move (and LeBron’s relocation to the West) figures to fully maximize whatever time Toronto has left to contend.

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