The Kawhi Leonard trade is the kind of move that the Boston Celtics have been avoiding in their rebuild
Over the last two summers, both the Boston Celtics and the Toronto Raptors shocked the NBA with blockbuster trades. They both brought in transcendent talent, and put their teams in a much better position to win right now.
Both of them made blockbuster trades for a superstar, but the circumstances and context could not be more different. In fact, these two trades show the true divide between how the Celtics rebuilt, and the state the Raptors are in right now.
The biggest difference is options. The Celtics have always made sure that no move would limit their options too drastically, and that is exactly what is happening to the Raptors by bringing in Leonard on a one year rental.
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When the Celtics traded for Irving, it immediately made them a better team but that first season was not the reason they traded for him. The Celtics went after Irving because they could see what it meant for the future of their team, and the longevity of a contending core.
The Raptors, on the other hand, have completely disregarded their future with Leonard, because they traded away one of the young pieces that could have helped in a rebuild situation, and they no longer have much of anything with trade value to try and properly kick start a rebuild.
When the Celtics reached the point where the Raptors are at right now, they did the opposite, by trading their stars for draft picks. The Celtics knew that they were not going to reach their goal by picking and plugging, so they made sure to take advantage of an opportunity to improve their future.
You cannot fault a team for going all in, and grabbing a player of the caliber of Leonard. The problem, however, is that the Raptors are disregarding all other factors involved, and that is something the Celtics will never do.
The Celtics will always look at all angles, and are never shortsighted in any move they will consider making. The Celtics take into account the age, the contract situation and, they would not waste their time with any one year rental.
The Celtics had all kinds of opportunities to bring in a one year rental superstar, but they never did. It did not matter the caliber of the player, because the Celtics will always be thinking about more than just one season.
Who knows how it will end up working out for either side, but the Leonard trade is a great example of how different Toronto’s approach is to Boston’s. Unless Leonard has a massive change of heart, they could be in a terrible position for years because of this trade.
They are putting everything into winning just this season, because they do not have the pieces they need to look to the future with this core. With the Celtics, it is never about one season. The Celtics have never put themselves in a position where one bad season would ruin the rebuild.
The Raptors are taking all kinds of risks, and are sacrificing in a way that the Celtics would never do. In the end, a championship is the only way to evaluate whether either approach is a success, but that Leonard trade is a great example of what the Celtics would never do.