Kawhi Leonard texted Kyle Lowry that he wanted 'to do something special' right after being traded to the Raptors for Lowry's best friend
- The Kawhi Leonard trade carried some risks for the Toronto Raptors, in part because he was dealt for DeMar DeRozan, the face of the franchise and Kyle Lowry's best friend.
- After the Raptors won the championship on Thursday, Leonard said that he texted Lowry shortly after the trade and said although he knew Lowry was mad about the trade, he wanted to help do "something special" in Toronto. Leonard said the Raptors made him feel welcome.
- Though Leonard may leave in free agency this offseason, the trade was obviously worthwhile for the Raptors.
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The Kawhi Leonard trade proved to be a huge, worthwhile gamble in helping the Toronto Raptors win a championship.
Leonard and the Raptors knocked off the Golden State Warriors in six games, winning the franchise's first championship, with Leonard taking home Finals MVP.
Of course, Leonard's arrival in Toronto wasn't guaranteed to be smooth. He was leaving San Antonio on ugly terms after the two sides disagreed about his injury, recovering from a season in which he only played nine games, and replacing DeMar DeRozan, one of the faces of the Raptors.
There were questions about how Leonard would get along with Kyle Lowry, who was best friends with DeRozan. The questions were not baseless. Lowry himself admitted to being less-than-pleased with team president Masai Ujiri after the deal.
After Game 6, Leonard was asked about how he integrated himself with Lowry and the Raptors when he was traded. He revealed that he sent an honest and prophetic text message to Lowry shortly after the deal.
"I texted Kyle, probably a day later or the day I got traded, and told him, 'Let's go out and do something special. I know your best friend left, I know you're mad, but let's make this thing work out,'" Leonard said.
Related: See inside the team's celebration:
Lowry was asked by ESPN's Doris Burke after Game 6 about DeRozan. Lowry said DeRozan is his best friend and he knew that DeRozan would be happy for him, but he wanted to focus on his current teammates.
Prior to the trade, Leonard reportedly had a list of teams he wanted to be traded to, and it did not include the Raptors. Some wondered after the deal if he would report to Toronto at all.
Leonard said on Thursday that he did have a list of teams he wanted to go to, but said he knew the Raptors were talented because of their prior playoff runs. He said the team was immediately welcoming of him.
Leonard is now one of the high-profile free agents this summer. Many have speculated that he'll leave the Raptors in free agency, perhaps to play for one of the Los Angeles teams, close to where he grew up in southern California.
If Leonard ends up being a one-year rental, it was worthwhile for the Raptors.
- Toronto Raptors beat the Golden State Warriors to win their first championship in franchise history
- The Raptors locker room was reportedly prepared for a championship celebration when Kawhi Leonard scored 10 points in 2 minutes in the 4th quarter — and then it all fell apart
- Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry scored 9 points in 95 seconds to save the Warriors season