The San Antonio Spurs had high hopes for their future with DeMar DeRozan. Most experts felt that he would be a fine candidate to replace Kawhi Leonard. Unfortunately, though, the acquisition of DeRozan hasn’t gone as well as expected for the Spurs, as the team missed the playoffs for the first time since 1997.
DeRozan, now 31 years of age, was among the players that the Spurs received in a blockbuster deal that sent Leonard to the Raptors in the summer of 2018. Nootably, DeMar has a $27.7 million player option on his contract, but there have been reports indicating that he is unhappy in San Antonio.
“DeMar doesn’t like San Antonio and doesn’t want to be there,” an anonymous agent told The Athletic.
CNBC’s Jabari Young, who previously served as a Spurs beat writer, echoed sentiments that DeRozan is unhappy during an appearance on ESPN San Antonio’s The Blitz:
“DeMar is not happy in San Antonio,” Young claimed.
DeMar DeRozan has since refuted this claim, noting on Instagram that he was “trying to figure out when he said that sh**:”
DeMar DeRozan could indeed pick up his option and stay with the Spurs. And simply put, that may be his best route. On the other hand, he could help a different organization reach the playoffs, but his poor defense and three-point shooting (25.7 percent from downtown this season) would have to be taken into account. Still, he is a capable scorer that can create his own shot, which is still an important trait in today’s NBA.
In this piece, we’ll take a look at five teams that could use a player of DeRozan’s caliber.
The same agent that reported DeRozan’s unhappiness in San Antonio pointed to Detroit as a possible destination, as he already has a connection with head coach Dwane Casey from his days with the Raptors. The Pistons would have enough cap space to take on a player like DeMar, but would they pull the proverbial trigger? And who (or what) might they be willing to give up? Tony Snell and Derrick Rose are on expiring contracts, so they could be sent in return.
Would a trade for DeRozan get the Pistons over the hump, though? They’re a team that’s been mired in mediocrity for several seasons (20-46 and 13th in the East this season). Pairing DeMar with Blake Griffin sounds like a great plan, but would it be enough?
Like the Pistons, the Cavs are another team that has struggled to find a rhythm in recent seasons (19-46 in the 2019-20 campaign). Cleveland is a young squad with talented lottery picks already playing the guard positions (Collin Sexton, Darius Garland), but might the team consider a trade for DeMar DeRozan?
The Cavs are still in contract discussions with center Andre Drummond, who joined the team as part of a February trade. He has a player option this offseason, and the two sides are trying to work towards an agreement. At one point, they were close to a deal. Now, however, talks have stalled a bit.
“At one point, there was mutual interest in an extension. However, the sides have been far apart in those preliminary discussions, sources say. The Cavs recognize Drummond’s talent but they are also honest about his flaws, especially in this pace-and-space era, where bigs like him are easy to attain. They don’t want to commit to an unfriendly deal that could limit future moves, not after an eight-game sample size. Drummond, meanwhile, wants to be compensated for bypassing a chance at 2021 free agency, when many teams will have significant cap space. Given the differing, current monetary views, an extension seems unlikely.”
Pairing Dre with DeRozan would give Cleveland three legitimate stars, but neither can hit threes at a consistent clip. Still, alongside some of the younger talent on the roster, it might lead the team in the right direction.
Los Angeles Lakers
The Lakers might seem like an unlikely landing spot for DeRozan, but consider the fact that he is from The City of Angels — Compton, to be precise.
Los Angeles could use another ball handler. DeRozan will come at a cost, however. Danny Green, JaVale McGee and Avery Bradley are on expiring salaries, and they are three of the team’s better defenders. DeMar is a decent defender, but it’s safe to say that he wouldn’t replace these players on that end of the floor.
If the Lakers are already feeling confident about their defense, a move for DeMar DeRozan may not be a bad idea. Still, he would be competing for shots against the likes of LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Perhaps he would be willing to take part in what would be a new big three.
New York Knicks
The Knicks (21-45 overall this season) are another team that could use a star player. They could afford an acquisition of DeRozan, but would they consider such a move? And furthermore, would it help the team reach the playoffs?
The short answer would seem to be yes, as DeRozan could pair nicely with R.J. Barrett and Mitchell Robinson. The Knicks need shooting to go with these young players. DeMar can get to the hole, to be sure, but he wouldn’t help much on the perimeter.
For now, we’ll have to wait and see where DeRozan will be playing in the coming season. Will he stay with the Spurs, as some believe, or will he look to move on?