Last week, the 2019-20 San Antonio Spurs earned the dubious distinction of becoming the first Gregg Popovich-led team to lose eight games in a row. And although they finally got off the schneid on Saturday, they wound up dropping their next game against the Los Angeles Lakers, giving them nine losses in 10 games, a 6-12 record and the league’s 10th-worst net rating.
San Antonio’s slow start has led many to quietly begin to wonder if the Spurs might consider changing things up in the form of a deal. The two likeliest trade candidates are their two highest-paid players, DeMar DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge, simply because it wouldn’t make much sense for the Spurs to ship out any of their promising young talents who are on cheap contracts, especially since it looks like this is a rebuilding season for the club.
For the purposes of today’s article, we focused on what DeRozan’s trade value might look like if San Antonio did start shopping him and asked several executives for their input.
On the year, DeRozan is averaging 22.2 points, 5.5 rebounds and 4.6 assists per contest while shooting 53.3 percent from the floor and 82.7 percent from the foul stripe. The advanced numbers may not like him much (and that’s putting it kindly, as DeRozan doesn’t rank higher than 100th in any of Box Plus/Minus, Value Over Replacement Player or Win Shares per 48 minutes), but he’s just one of 11 players putting up a 22/5/4 stat line this year, along with elite talents like LeBron James, Luka Doncic, James Harden and Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Surely, then, a team lacking scoring and playmaking on the perimeter would be interested in acquiring DeRozan if he were to be put up on the trade block… right?
It’s not so clear.
“It’s a difficult valuation,” one Western Conference executive told HoopsHype. “You’d think that any team that trades for him either has plenty of three-point shooting elsewhere or they’re desperate for a player who can create his own shot. I’m not sure off the top of my head which team makes sense as a suitor.”
Perhaps a team like the Orlando Magic, who rank 11th in defensive rating but dead last in offensive rating, would make sense as a potential DeRozan suitor.
According to Synergy, the 10-year veteran presently ranks in the 72nd percentile as a pick-and-roll scorer, 86th percentile as an iso scorer and 87th percentile in scoring out of the post. The Magic’s ranks in those three play-types as a team? Out of the pick-and-roll, Orlando scorers rank 15th in the NBA in production, 27th in isolation scoring and 25th in post-up scoring.
DeRozan would give the Magic offense a huge boost, one that it desperately needs.
And, for what it’s worth, Orlando has reportedly expressed some interest in DeRozan. One of the executives who spoke to HoopsHype said that they’ve also heard the DeRozan-to-Orlando rumblings, while another mentioned both the Magic and the Sacramento Kings as sensible suitors for the All-Star 2-guard:
Other teams mentioned by league execs as theoretical landing spots for DeRozan include the Houston Rockets, the Detroit Pistons and even… his former team.
“It sounds crazy, but Toronto actually makes a lot of sense as a landing spot for DeRozan,” another Western Conference executive said. “As far as what Toronto would have to give up, it would probably have to be a first-round pick plus Serge Ibaka or Marc Gasol.”
That theory might seem far-fetched but with DeRozan cast as the team’s third fiddle behind Pascal Siakam and Kyle Lowry, and surrounded by the Raptors’ other promising young pieces like Fred VanVleet, his second go-around with Toronto could go even better than the first.
Of course, we would be remiss not to mention DeRozan’s enormous contract, which has an uncertain future, as a potential stumbling block in trade talks.
That same Western Conference exec shared the following on how teams view DeRozan’s deal: “With a player option next year, the team that’s trading for him has to be comfortable with him potentially leaving a couple months later, or having to re-sign him to a new long-term deal. Maybe this turns into an opt-in-and-trade scenario, so there’s more security for the team and they know what they’re trading for contractually.”
DeRozan’s contract pays him $27.7 million both this season and in 2020-21, with the latter campaign containing a player option, meaning that whichever team does theoretically acquire him would do so without knowing whether he’ll be on their roster next season.
One NBA executive pointed out that perhaps an extend-and-trade involving DeRozan would benefit all parties involved: “He wants an extension, so maybe we see an extend-and-trade. As for how much he’d get, the extension can’t go above 105 percent of his current contract. But maybe that’s a possibility.”
But the concern is stymied a bit by the fact that it likely wouldn’t cost a team all that much to land DeRozan, not with a contract that hefty for a player in his 30s.
“I don’t think DeRozan or Aldridge are worthy of getting two assets back in return,” another Western Conference executive said.
Would a single protected first-round pick not be worth it for a couple of years of DeRozan, particularly for an offense-needy team fighting to make the playoffs?
If the Spurs’ struggles continue, we may get a better idea of San Antonio’s asking price and whether teams are willing to meet it based on how they perceive DeRozan and his contract situation.
HoopsHype’s Alex Kennedy contributed to this article.
You can follow Frank Urbina on Twitter: @FrankUrbina_.