Report: Celtics were unwilling to trade for Kawhi Leonard as a rental

Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

The Toronto Raptors on Wednesday took a major risk by acquiring impending free agent forward Kawhi Leonard from the San Antonio Spurs.

The deal included Toronto sending homegrown talent DeMar DeRozan and the three remaining years on his contract to San Antonio. This could potentially make Toronto the biggest loser of the trade.

On the other hand, the Boston Celtics held firm in their desire not to give up young stars in a Leonard trade. Bowing out of the process rather early, general manager Danny Ainge and Co. were not about to give up assets to rent a player coming off an injury-plagued 2017-18 campaign.

“The Spurs never showed interest in packages — including Boston’s — heavy on picks and unproven players, sources have said,” ESPN’s Zach Loew reported. “The Celtics would not swap any of their core guys, including Jaylen Brown, perhaps the most interesting Leonard trade chip in the league, without some assurances about Leonard’s health and future plans, sources have said.”

It makes perfect sense. Why would Boston give up the likes of either Jaylen Brown or Jayson Tatum for what might have been a one-year rental? If Leonard wasn’t willing to commit to Boston long term, a trade was never going to happen.

Now that Leonard is seemingly upset about being moved to Toronto and has reportedly threatened to sit out the 2018-19 season, Boston’s stance on the situation isn’t crazy at all.

As it is, Boston should be considered the odds-on favorite back east. It will be returning Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Leonard, both of whom were absent from the team’s run to the Eastern Conference Finals. Meanwhile, the addition of Leonard doesn’t move the needle all that much for Toronto.