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Ex-Raptors coach Dwane Casey ‘would have fought’ for DeMar DeRozan

Dwane Casey, DeMar DeRozan

Former Toronto Raptors head coach Dwane Casey still loves himself some DeMar DeRozan.

Casey, who is now the Detroit Pistons head coach, told Dave Fashuk of The Star that the Raptors did great with the addition of a top-tier superstar like Kawhi Leonard on their roster.

“They did a good job this year bringing in Kawhi Leonard, who’s a top-three, top-four player in the league. That’s something you dream of.”

That doesn’t mean, though, that he would have endorsed the deal that sent Leonard to Toronto and DeRozan to the San Antonio Spurs.

“I love DeMar. I would have fought for DeMar,” Casey said. “But Kawhi is a top player.”

DeMar DeRozan is certainly one of Casey’s guys. The two developed a strong relationship with each other over their seven years together in Toronto. Casey watched Derozan grow year after year, with the All-Star guard coming in every season with an added arsenal or an improved skill set to his game.

However, their tenure together on the team abruptly ended after Casey was fired in May following an embarrassing sweep in the second round of the playoffs at the hands of LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Dwane Casey’s dismissal was a sign of things to come for the organization. Just a couple of months later, the Raptors traded arguably their most decorated player in franchise history to gamble on a bonafide superstar like Leonard.

Had Casey still been on the team, there is still the possibility that DeRozan would still be a Raptor. But then again, their ceiling will still most likely be the same with DeRozan as the team’s leader and primary option on offense. They’d basically be just running it back.

Kawhi, on the other hand, raises the Raptors’ ceiling much higher. His arrival at The Six catapulted them into the conversation as favorites to come out of the East.

No wonder why Casey always seems to mention how Kawhi is a top player. He also did say, “that’s something you dream of.” Maybe he would have traded Derozan for Leonard just the same?