Masai Ujiri took a huge risk when he traded one of the greatest players in the history of the Toronto Raptors, DeMar DeRozan, for a disgruntled superstar who was dead set on heading to L.A. once he hit free agency.
Ujiri still chose to go all-in on the 2018-19 NBA season by acquiring Kawhi Leonard on a one-year rental. And that gamble paid off in a huge way tonight, as the Raptors are heading to their first ever NBA Finals.
There is simply no way the Raptors could have gotten this far without Leonard, as he has been incredible all postseason long.
In Game 6 tonight, Leonard scored 27 points, grabbed 17 rebounds and dished out seven assists. In just one season, you can already argue that Leonard is the greatest player in the Raptors franchise history.
The play that clinched the game for the Raptors was one of Kawhi’s patented hustle plays as he does the little things to help his team win.
With his team up four points, Leonard grabbed a rebound off the floor, amongst two seven-footers, to seal the game.
With ice in his veins, Leonard off course drained both free throws to put the Raptors up six points, as they beat the Milwaukee Bucks 100-94.
Leonard will need to play with that same level and focus on every possession if he wants to deliver the first Canada it’s first Larry O’Brien Trophy.
The Raptors will be playing the two-time defending champs, the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals, who are still likely to be favored in the series.
Stephen Curry and Damian Lillard Want to Play in 2020 Summer Olympics
The FIBA World Cup proved to be an embarrassing affair for Team USA, as the Americans were defeated for the first internationally in some time.
Team USA advanced to the quarterfinals in the tournament, before being upset and eliminated by France. From there, the Americans lost their next matchup to Serbia and ended up finishing seventh overall.
But the one thing that Team USA did accomplish in the FIBA World Cup is that by making it to the quarterfinals, they qualified to play in the 2020 Summer Olympics.
The biggest reason that Team USA struggled in the FIBA World Cup is that a majority of our best superstars chose to stay home and not play.
That likely won’t be the case for the Olympics though, as players are more motivated to compete in that event, on a stage that garners way more national attention.
The Team USA is already starting to look much deeper, as Stephen Curry has announced his interest in competing in the Olympics next summer.
Curry has never played in the Olympics, but would obviously give Team USA a great chance to take home a gold medal. Another player that has not appeared in the Olympics is Damian Lillard.
Lillard is another superstar guard that has announced his intentions to play in the upcoming Olympics, giving Team USA a great one-two scoring punch.
Lillard and Curry can make threes rain from any place on the court, giving Team USA a potent scoring backcourt like we have never seen in international play.
With all due respect to Kemba Walker and Donovan Mitchell, Lillard and Curry would represent a great upgrade to Team USA’s FIBA roster. Especially as they would push players like Walker and Mitchell to the bench.
Finishing seventh in the FIBA World Cup was disappointing for Team USA, but there is a great chance they rectify that in the upcoming 2020 Olympics.
Three-Time NBA Champion Shaun Livingston Announces His Retirement
Over the past five seasons, the Golden State Warriors have put together one of the greatest dynasties in NBA history, winning three championships and making five-straight appearances in the NBA Finals.
Now they are turning the page to a new era of Warriors basketball, still surrounded around their homegrown ‘Big Three’ of Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green’.
But the role players from those great Warriors teams have moved on and for some, are calling it quits altogether. As Shaun Livingston just announced his retirement from the NBA.
In his farewell message, Livingston cites “the injury”, referring to a devastating knee injury that he suffered back in 2007.
The injury was so bad for Livingston, that it almost resulted in his leg being amputated it was so bad.
Livingston made a remarkable recovery from the injury and turned in a fantastic career. The last stages of his career came with the Golden State Warriors, were he proved to be an excellent backup point guard to Curry.
Without Livingston’s ability to make plays and play stout defense at 6-foot-7, the Warriors would not have been three-time champions.
Congrats to Livingston on a great career, which we never could have expected him to have back in 2007.
Joe Johnson Signs with the Detroit Pistons, Michael Beasley Released
After it appeared that Joe Johnson’s career may be coming to a close, Iso Joe found new life in the Big 3, working his way back into the NBA.
Johnson, 38, has been signed to the Detroit Pistons on a one-year contract.
Johnson did not garner any initial interest when it came to his free agency this offseason, but then came his stint in the Big 3, which saw him absolutely demolish the competition.
Johnson led his team, the Triplets, to a Big 3 championship and was named the league’s MVP. Now he goes back into the NBA, after he was out of the league for all of last season.
We last saw Johnson play for the Utah Jazz and the Houston Rockets in the 2017-18 NBA season, when he averaged 11.1 points, 5.1 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game for the two teams.
What Johnson proved in the Big 3, is if you give him the minutes and the ball, he can still get buckets with the best of them.
To make room for him on the Pistons roster, they ended up releasing Michael Beasley, who was suspended to start the season anyway.
Johnson joins forces with Blake Griffin and Derrick Rose, to a form a team that we would have been salivating over seven years ago.
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