On that note, it’s hard not to think about what could have been. Just imagine the hype if Leonard was still with the Raptors this season, playing in the Finals against James and the Lakers.
First off, there's the matchup itself between arguably the two best players in the game right now. Leonard and James famously have met twice in the post-season previously, when the Heat played the San Antonio Spurs in both the 2013 and 2014 Finals. Those series ended with one championship and one Finals MVP for each player, and Round 3 after a five-year wait would have had NBA fans across the globe licking their lips.
Then there would have also been the chance for the Raptors to exact some measure of revenge for all those LeBronto moments. For three straight years—2016, 2017, 2018—James ended Toronto’s playoff hopes and did so in embarrassing fashion. When the series was tied 2-2 in 2016, he said it wasn’t an "adverse situation"; there was a time he fake sipped beer, and another where he went through an assortment of moves that progressively crushed the soul of the Raptors. Who can forget the game winner he hit over Anunoby?
It all led to Ujiri reaching his limit in trusting Dwane Casey with the head coaching duties and DeMar DeRozan as the primary scorer. A title helped heal plenty of the pain Raptors fans felt at the hands of LeBron, but the chance to beat The King himself in the Finals? That would have exorcised every remaining demon.