Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri made the biggest trade in franchise history when he acquired All-Star Kawhi Leonard from the San Antonio Spurs, but the blockbuster does come with a couple of risks.
For starters, Leonard could hit the free agent market next year, and it's no secret that he wants to sign with his hometown Los Angeles Clippers or Lakers. The Raptors gave up franchise star DeMar DeRozan to get Leonard, who may only spend the one season in Toronto.
However, Ujiri is confident that he can convince his prized acquisition to sign a long-term deal in Toronto, and thus keep their championship window open for several more years.
"We are who we are. We are going to be prepared, we are going to make things as smooth...We might not be the best ones in weather, but we might be the best ones in many other places: the diversity, the city, the uniqueness of a place like [Toronto], fans, the atmosphere...
And then you have to put the basketball together...With his teammates and seeing how hard these guys are working. We have to show who we are. There is no fake sales job here -- this is what it is."
There are a couple of advantages the Raptors do have in keeping Leonard here. For one, they're the only team that can give him the five-year, $190 million maximum extension. The most another team could offer him in free agency next year? Four years and $141 million. The additional $49 million could be a huge selling point for Toronto.
On top of that, the Raptors have been among the NBA's top teams over the last five seasons. They've reached the postseason in five straight years, including three consecutive 50-win seasons.
If Leonard stays in the Eastern Conference, his team will have a much easier chance at reaching the NBA Finals. Even if he goes LeBron James in L.A., the Lakers still wouldn't be on the same level as the Golden State Warriors, and the Houston Rockets won't be going away any time soon.
Toronto is one of the greatest cities in the world, and the Raptor fan base is among the most passionate across the continent. If Leonard falls in love with the city and fans, then the Raptors may just get their franchise star under long term, making the trade well worth it.