Should Spurs offer DeMar DeRozan a maximum contract extension?
The San Antonio Spurs seem to be at an impasse with respect to their future. Although DeMar DeRozan still had a good year for the Spurs, he did not have quite as big of an impact on the team as Kawhi Leonard–whom he replaced–and the Spurs finished seventh in the Western Conference, losing in the first round of the playoffs.
As a result, San Antonio flirted with trading DeRozan this summer, though they ultimately elected to retain DeRozan as young players like Dejounte Murray reenter the rotation this year.
Instead, the Spurs have now pivoted towards possibly locking DeRozan up for the future, and are still mulling offering him a max contract extension. DeRozan has a player option for the 2020-21 season, so he could ultimately decline his option and enter the market as a free agent next summer.
However, if the Spurs do indeed decide to extend DeRozan, then they risk putting a major dent in their payroll for a player who, truth be told, has not proven that he can lead a team to the NBA Finals.
In addition to payroll considerations, it makes more sense for the Spurs to be patient with respect to DeRozan, and hope that he might opt in for 2020.
What if he does not fit with the youngsters?
Murray’s return to the rotation has greater consequences than one might assume. The Spurs hold Murray in very high regard, and he figures to see a lot of time on the ball as the team’s point guard.
Simultaneously, backcourt players like Bryn Forbes and Derrick White improved tremendously as the season went along, giving San Antonio a diverse set of guards that can make plays at the rim or shoot the ball from beyond the arc.
Simply put: this could be an adjustment season for DeRozan. The former Raptors star put up excellent numbers last year, averaging 21 points and over six assists and six rebounds per game. However, he is still mostly reliant on his athleticism and the midrange game, a dying art in the modern NBA.
DeRozan demands a lot of the ball as a result, which could be a problem given Murray’s relative inability to shoot the ball and the fact that the Spurs are hoping to build him as a budding star. What if the two players cannot coexist on the floor? San Antonio would be stuck trying to fill their roster around two clashing guards, which is not the most enticing of prospects.
Age is a factor
Another underrated element is that DeRozan just turned 30 years old. He only has a few years left in his prime, and the Spurs would be committing to building around the last few years of his prime if they decide to offer him an extension.
In a crowded Western Conference, however, it does not seem prudent to extend DeRozan if there were not more certainty as to the team’s capabilities., especially given his age. And, simply put, the Spurs do not figure to be one of the elite teams in the West.
Even if DeRozan opts out of his current deal and decides to test the market, the Spurs will (ideally) still have a young core that can compete for a playoffs spot while also having more cap flexibility. But signing him to a max extension does not get them any closer to a championship, and there is a greater likelihood that it could come back to haunt the Spurs.
Plus, there is no telling how DeRozan’s season will play out. perhaps he does not have the kind of season that would guarantee a higher salary in free agency. Bottom line: San Antonio should be prudent.