NBA rumors: Heat exploring path to landing DeMar DeRozan?

Marc Stein: In addition to its increasingly promising pursuit of Kyle Lowry, Miami has been exploring pathways for acquiring Lowry’s former teammate and free agent-to-be DeMar DeRozan as well, league sources say. More NBA from me: marcstein.substack.com

More on DeMar DeRozan Free Agency

DeMar DeRozan is expected to be among the most desired players in free agency, with several teams being interested in signing the veteran forward. According to Marc J. Spears, the LA Clippers are joining the bidding war for DeRozan. The same can be said for the New York Knicks, the Chicago Bulls, the Los Angeles Lakers and his current team, the San Antonio Spurs. DeRozan, an LA native, could definitely see his free agency as a chance to return home and play for the Lakers or the Clippers.
Noah Magaro-George: Marc J. Spears on DeMar DeRozan’s impending free agency. Marc J. Spears: "The Clippers has some interest too."
In many cases, the team’s interest level depends on different factors/scenarios on draft night or in free agency. With that in mind, DeMar DeRozan and Spencer Dinwiddie are two players on the Knicks’ radar in at least some of their free agency scenarios, per SNY sources.
New York is looking for a lead guard in the draft and free agency. Dinwiddie is rehabbing a torn ACL, so signing him comes with some risk. But he’s expressed confidence in his ability to bounce back from the injury because he suffered the same ailment in college. At least one key decision maker for New York has embraced the idea of signing Dinwiddie, per SNY sources.
DeRozan’s interest in New York is unclear. The Knicks have the cap space to make DeRozan an attractive offer. DeRozan reportedly has interest in signing with the Lakers. It would take a lot of roster movement for the Lakers to be able to offer DeRozan something close to what the Knicks can offer. Worth noting on Dinwiddie: Aside from the Knicks’ interest, at least one team has concrete plans to make the guard a strong offer in free agency, sources say.
“It’s a very average free-agent group for unrestricted free agents,” said one Western Conference executive. “For example, there is no KD or a Giannis. The best guys are DeRozan, Lowly and Conley. But if some guys opt out of their contracts and become unrestricted free agents, then that changes things.”
“I’ve never been in this situation before in my career, to be going completely in as a free agent,” said DeRozan, who made $27.7 million this season. “I have no clue (what to expect). It hasn’t been something I’ve thought about or that I can sit up here and say I’ve got options.”
Jeff Garcia: DeRozan says he's not thinking about free agency, that he's thinking about the loss right now, and keeping the young players heads up #gospursgo
A source with knowledge of DeRozan’s outlook said he’ll be taking a “wide open” approach to free agency in terms of possible landing spots. But after these past three seasons in San Antonio, where he was asked to sacrifice on the scoring front and evolve as a playmaker in the process, the master of the midrange has put himself in prime position to take advantage of this well-earned reputation as a more versatile offensive threat.
Bobby Marks: Monday deadline for player options Anthony Davis: $28.8M DeMar DeRozan: $27.7M Mike Conley Jr. : $34.5M Evan Fournier: $17.0M Robin Lopez : $5.0M Nic Batum: $27.1M Tony Snell: $12.2M Stanley Johnson: $3.8M Wesley Matthews : $2.7M My guess is we go 7/9 on opt-in
The agent noted that DeRozan could reunite with former Raptors teammate Fred VanVleet and coach Dwane Casey in Detroit, where Casey leads the Pistons. "That relationship with the former coach is strong. Comes down to money (for VanVleet) and the situation in Toronto is rough with the taxes. VanVleet on the Pistons elevates his status as the number 1-2 guy on a team," the agent said.
Paul Garcia: DeMar DeRozan was asked if his upcoming player option came into his decision to resume play: "I never think about the next year." "For me, it's about the times we're living in" - dealing with Covid and racial injustice he said.
But DeRozan is more likely to opt in with the Spurs. Among the likely free agents, there aren’t any five-alarm guys, but I do think Evan Fournier has a bit of a warning flag attached. He’s coming off a career year at 27 that featured shooting percentages far above his career norms, so he’s likely to regress. That would have a rebuilding Knicks team buying into a declining commodity. I have him projected at a $12.5 million value next season and likely to go further downward from there, and he’s going to get way more than that if he chooses free agency. (Fournier has a player option for $17.1 million.) He’s not a bad player, but he’s the wrong one for a team like the Knicks.
Shams Charania: New player option dates for 2020 NBA free agency: Anthony Davis: Oct. 14 Gordon Hayward: Oct. 17 DeMar DeRozan: Oct. 17 Mike Conley Jr.: Oct. 17 Andre Drummond: Oct. 17
In a recent episode of ESPN San Antonio’s “The Blitz”, Young expressed that DeRozan could possibly be leaving the Spurs this summer. “I don’t have to sugarcoat anything. DeMar DeRozan is not happy in San Antonio,” Jabari Young said. “The offense is not running smoothly as one should think with a guy like him in the lineup. There are problems. They’re not winning. They don’t look like they enjoy playing with each other. The roster just doesn’t fit”
In a recent episode of ESPN San Antonio’s “The Blitz”, Young expressed that DeRozan could possibly be leaving the Spurs this summer. “I don’t have to sugarcoat anything. DeMar DeRozan is not happy in San Antonio,” Jabari Young said. “The offense is not running smoothly as one should think with a guy like him in the lineup. There are problems. They’re not winning. They don’t look like they enjoy playing with each other. The roster just doesn’t fit”
If swingman DeMar DeRozan and the San Antonio Spurs can’t agree to an extension by the late June deadline, the four-time All-Star intends to decline his $27.7 million player option for next season to become an unrestricted free agent, league sources told Yahoo Sports. DeRozan, who has averaged 20 points in his 11-year career, would be among the top players on the market this summer. DeRozan declining his option wouldn’t close the door on him re-signing with the Spurs, sources said, but it would definitely open an avenue for a team like the New York Knicks, who are expected to be interested.
Asked about the report after the game, a smiling DeRozan played coy. “Who reported it? Did my Mama say it?," DeRozan said. "Don’t listen to it then.” DeRozan's future will continue to be a topic of speculation going forward. He is the Spurs' leader in scoring at 22.3 points and in assists at 5.5 per game, and is shooting a career best 5.5 assists.
According to the latest rumbles, San Antonio and DeRozan aren’t particularly close to a deal. But there is no looming deadline for veteran extensions like DeRozan’s — extension talks can go all the way up to June 30 as opposed to Monday’s deadline for rookie-scale deals — and the Spurs have lots to think about here.
The Spurs would prefer to do a short-term extension if they grant one, given DeRozan’s age (30) and the fact that they have some good guards in the program (Derrick White, Dejounte Murray, Bryn Forbes and Lonnie Walker IV) who are likely to only keep expanding their roles. DeRozan undoubtedly wants a longer-term extension in exchange for sacrificing his free agency.
A source with knowledge of the situation says the Spurs and DeRozan have continued to discuss a possible extension, but the two sides remain quite a ways apart. (As our Shams Charania recently reported, a max extension for DeRozan would be four years, $150 million; a deal can be agreed upon up until the start of free agency). For San Antonio’s purposes, a two-year deal would be preferable as a way to maintain future flexibility while securing a player in DeRozan, who – if he opts out – would be the best wing scorer on the market. If the 30-year-old DeRozan picks up the option, however, he could reap the benefits of a 2021 summer in which the cap is expected to spike to approximately $125 million (looming China factor notwithstanding).
Tom Orsborn: DeMar on his contract situation: "Man, I just want to hoop. My whole career I never even once had that play on my mind...That's never been my focus...However it unfolds, that's how it is supposed to unfold."
DeRozan may have grown up idolizing his hometown’s most glamorous franchise. He may have grown up admiring Kobe Bryant, imitating his moves and later dubbing him “the top five greatest player of all time.” Yet, DeRozan refused to compromise the same affection he has for the Raptors after they selected him ninth overall in the 2009 NBA draft. “When you have an opportunity to go home, that’s something that certainly would cross your mind. But it wasn’t anything,” DeRozan told Southern California News Group. “After I finish playing, I’m pretty sure I’ll live in L.A. But I just wanted to do something special and leave a legacy of my own in Toronto.”
Marc Stein: So according to that last tweet from my pal @MarcJSpears, your most current estimate on the DeMar DeRozan deal is five years, $145 million.
Michael Grange: The Raptors meeting with DeRozan tomorrow as per @Chris Haynes; if needed Mavs, Sixers; Heat & Lakers will meet, according to sources.
Chris Haynes: Toronto granted first meeting with DeMar DeRozan in LA on July 1, sources tell @clevelanddotcom. Miami, Dallas, Philly, Lakers could follow.
Similarly Aaron Goodwin – DeRozan’s longtime agent – isn’t known as a Scott Boras type, who’s looking to extract every last dollar and willing to use every conceivable ounce of leverage to do so. When the Raptors were negotiating the four-year extension with DeRozan, Goodwin ultimately put the decision in his client’s hands, according to sources, recognizing that in the end it would be the player, not him, who would be living and working under the terms of the deal. And it’s important to note that the Raptors have a considerable advantage in being able to offer DeRozan the best deal. They can pay him the aforementioned $153 million over five years while any other team can only offer $114 million over four.
The good news, for DeRozan and the Raptors, is that Biyombo wants to come back. According to a person with knowledge of his situation, he will be patient as Toronto works things out with DeRozan as its top priority. Biyombo will have no shortage of suitors should the Raptors blink long enough to lose DeRozan, but there will be no immediate rush to seize the speediest deal.
William Justin Carr: Steve... Theoretically LAL could have room for 1 Max Player next season if LAL sign Whiteside and DeRozan THIS offseason? - Steve Kyler: DeMar DeRozan not likely taking meeting - his first goal is to re-sign with the Raptors.
The Raptors can offer DeRozan a five-year maximum contract worth $153 million with the salary cap at a projected $94 million. Other teams would be able to offer him a max deal of $114 million over four years. Toronto's decision-makers have made it clear that re-signing DeRozan, a southern California native whose name was often linked to the Los Angeles Lakers in speculation about this summer, is their top offseason priority.
Raptors GM Masai Ujiri updated the status of DeRozan in a guest appearance on Dean Blundell & Co., Thursday morning. “We’re nowhere because right now we cant (talk),” Ujiri told hosts Joey Vendetta and George Rusic on Sportsnet 590 The Fan. “Everything stops until July 1. So we’re still in the same place we were at the end of the season. We talked and had a good exit meeting. I will fly down to see DeMar at some point in the next couple of weeks to have a good chat with him and we’ll go from there.”
Chris Haynes: Raptors G DeMar DeRozan has officially opted out and is a free agent, league sources informed @clevelanddotcom. His deadline was June 15.
The Hawks’ number one priority is to bring back Horford, Kent Bazemore and possibly Kris Humphries as unrestricted free agents. They will also need to figure out their point guard situation - which means an almost assured trade of either Jeff Teague or Dennis Schroder. Those are the likely scenarios. However, there is a chance the Hawks could shoot for the stars and line up Horford with another max player such as Kevin Durant or DeMar DeRozan – likely the three players on the market who will get max deals.
With $69 million in guaranteed contracts, the Raptors are currently over the salary cap based on $28 million in free-agent holds, including DeRozan’s $15 million cap hold. If Toronto were to release the holds on free agents Scola, Johnson and Thompson, and leave the No. 26 pick in the draft in Europe, the Raptors still would be over the cap.
Eric Koreen: "We want to bring them back," Masai says of DeMar and Biyombo. "Sometimes those things are difficult or challenging."
As the NBA enters it’s bubble economy phase (the salary cap is expected to rise by more than $20 million this season and another $20 million the following year) DeRozan will be offered a maximum contract by at least one team – four years and roughly $107 million – and probably more. The NBA grapevine is rife with intelligence saying that his hometown Lakers will offer him the moon. No one would be surprised if Bryan Colangelo – the man who drafted him – will try to lure him to the Philadelphia 76ers.
Romeo would be the guy to ask ... he and DeRozan have been best friends for years, growing up together and playing college ball at USC. Check out the clip ... it's been reported DeMar wants to bolt the north for L.A. and Romeo adds to that fire ... hinting STRONGLY that he knows the Lakers are the right spot for his best pal.
The timing couldn't have been worse for DeRozan or the Raptors. With an Eastern Conference finals trip within their grasp, the team's All-Star shooting guard now has difficulty simply tying his shoe. "I’ve never been one of those guys to be like, ‘Why? Why did this happen, or why'd it happen now?’ It’s part of the game. You’ve got to take the good with the bad sometimes," DeRozan told The Vertical after Miami defeated Toronto 94-87 in overtime to even the series at two games each. "I’m going to fight through it, deal with it and go from there with it. I’ve got a whole summer to let it heal and figure itself out."
DeRozan (Raptors), Durant (Thunder) and LeBron (Cavaliers) are still under contract with other NBA teams, and they will be until July 1. Johnson is a Lakers Vice President. That’s clearly tampering. Per the Collective Bargaining Agreement, an employee of an NBA team can’t permissibly “induce, persuade, or attempt to entice, induce or persuade, any Player who is under contract to, or whose exclusive negotiating rights are held by, any other Member of the Association to enter into negotiations for or relating to his services or negotiate or contract for such services.” Johnson often doesn’t sound like a Lakers executive, and the role is probably ceremonial. But Drake got the Raptors fined for recruiting Durant. Drake obviously isn’t integral to Toronto’s basketball operations. But he holds a title – Global Brand Ambassador – with the team. Why wouldn’t the same rule apply to Johnson?
DeMar DeRozan, Toronto Raptors: FA age: 26 | Salary: $9.5 million. Insider info: Will opt out of his current contract. He’s in the prime of his career. Has full Bird rights and Toronto can sign him to the projected max of $25 million per year. Strong chance he will be in a Raptors uniform next season.
Eastern Conference All-Star guard DeMar DeRozan says it will be "pretty tough" for interested teams to steal him away from the Raptors in free agency this summer. "My whole mindset has always been this is home for me," DeRozan said in an interview that will air in full on Saturday's Meet the All-Stars show on ESPN Radio at 5:30 p.m. "I never think otherwise unless it's brought up to me, or you see things, or people ask you about certain things. This has always been home to me. I took pride in putting on this Toronto Raptors jersey since I've been drafted here. And my whole goal was to get this team to the point where it is now. And I feel I've been a major key to that."
"He will be a free agent," Lowry told ESPN Radio. "That's the best thing for him to do. And for me as a friend, as a friend, and what he did for me during my free agency, I'll do the same thing. I will just listen and sit back. I won't give him no advice, and I won't push him anywhere. Because, as a friend, friendship comes before basketball, and that's my guy. Wherever he makes a decision to go -- and I'm hoping it's back here, which I think it's gonna be -- I won't push him or persuade him or anything. I'll just say: 'Hey, listen, bro. I'm here to listen to you.'"
He's read the tweets, as you might expect, and knows there are people out there that are making the 'contract year' implication. Does it surprise him? Nothing does, not anymore. His message to those folks: "Obviously you haven't been paying attention to me and how I've worked every single year of my career," he said. "And that's just me as a person. That just shows me at the end of the day nobody really knows who you are inside. As long as I know who I am inside. It's not about the money, it's not about this, it's about me wanting to be better every single year. I don't care if it's contract year or if I sign a deal for 20 years. It don't matter to me. Every single year, as long as I can run up and down the floor, I'm going to continue to get better."
Toronto is the NBA's fourth-largest market but playing in Canada has always meant dealing with a certain amount of obscurity that suits DeRozan just fine. The Raptors have been his only team in seven seasons, and DeRozan would like that to remain the case after he opts out of the final year of his four-year, $40 million contract and becomes a free agent this summer. Based on his All-Star caliber play through the first few months of this season, DeRozan will have no shortage of suitors, but Toronto can pay more than any other team – and DeRozan has taken to the place. “Toronto is all I’ve known, honestly. I came in, 19, everything was completely new for me. I appreciated the support, the love,” DeRozan, 26, told Yahoo. “I treated it like home since then.”
“One thing I never did was look at anybody else, what they did or what they followed, honestly,” DeRozan told Yahoo. “I always stuck to what I believe in and what I’m comfortable with. If I see a hundred people walking left, that don’t necessarily mean I’m going to walk left. I may see this clear path and want to stay right.” DeRozan has an advantage over his ship-jumping predecessors because the Raptors have never appeared more stable. They have one of the league's most well-regarded general managers in Masai Ujiri and a coach in Dwane Casey who has led the team to a franchise-record number of wins in each of the past two seasons. And DeRozan also has an all-star backcourt mate in Kyle Lowry, a good friend with whom he has formed an uncanny connection on the floor.
“My whole goal was to get us out of that light and become a winning team, a winning organization. From going to winning 20-someting games, to winning our division, franchise-record wins, that’s something you can definitely be happy for,” DeRozan told Yahoo. “It’s amazing to see how far it came. I remember [Toronto] being just a hockey town.” Having already outperformed the extension he received after his rookie deal expired, DeRozan cracked a smile when reminded of the criticism he received at the time. DeRozan made the All-Star team in the first year that his deal kicked in, quickly going from risky signing to underpaid bargain. “I just remember all the negativity and whatever came with it, then all a sudden, it’s like, ‘Aw, you should’ve waited,’ ” DeRozan told Yahoo. “Honestly, I could’ve signed for $500 million at that point, I still would’ve have had that hunger to want to get better and try to improve, and I feel I have to prove so much.”
That starts with DeRozan, a lock to decline his option and hit free agency this summer. A bunch of teams, including DeRozan's hometown Lakers, are prepared to offer him a max deal starting at $25 million per season, and the Raptors know they will have to spend big to keep him.
Ujiri also has to decide if Casey is the coach he wants, though both Lowry and DeRozan endorsed Casey's return in separate interviews with ESPN.com. "The grass ain't always greener," Lowry says. "I want him back, but it's not my decision."
“That’s one you thing you can never question: my loyalty to the city,” DeRozan told host Joey Vendetta on the Jeff Blair Show. “How much I really love and appreciate the team and the organization. I think all the fans understand that. A lot of times they don’t understand how contracts or things like that. But I’ve always stressed that this is where I want to be my whole career.”
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September 19, 2021 | 7:06 am EDT Update
Lakers legend Pau Gasol, Marc’s older brother, recently sat down with Spanish newspaper Marca as he discussed the future of his sibling. Pau’s response was cryptic, but it is clear that he is hoping that Marc returns to Spain: “Marc has earned the freedom and flexibility to make his own decision and he will do so when he decides,” Pau said (h/t Sam Yip of Fan Nation). “I know he has a lot of enthusiasm for Basquet Girona, a club in which I am also involved as vice president. He is in a different situation, because he is five years younger than me. We will see what he decides to do this season and later, I am also waiting.”
“I’ve been on him about things I need from him,” Billups said. “I said, ‘Nurk, I know you are going to be a free agent, and I understand you have to have a great year. You need me for you to have a great year, and I need you for us to have a good year. We need each other, right?’ “I’m going to give him every opportunity to have a great year. Because if he has a great year, that means we are a pretty damn good team. Because he is a good player. But that means he has to be focused and be in shape. Because you are only going to play as many minutes as you are physically able. If you are out there tired, uh-uh, come on, gotta get you out. There are good players behind you.”
It is unclear exactly what Nurkic and his role will look like under Billups, but to hear Nurkic talk, Billups has given him a vision of being more involved on both ends. Billups has been careful not to publicly define roles, but in general, he has preached that the offense will include more ball movement. “I just want to feel wanted, and I think I just need more support, and what I mean by that is different playing style, more inside-out game, more chance,” Nurkic said. “More chance to be successful and the position where they put you in. It’s all about the coach and where they put you, and I think Chauncey has figured out that certain people are going to have one to three points less, but the team is going to be way more successful with ball movement and playing together and be more fun. Even at the defensive end.”
Virtus Bologna’s win over LBA newcomer Tortona in SuperCup Quarterfinal game yesterday night was overshadowed by a serious injury occurred to Nigerian center Ekpe Udoh, who appears to have injured his patellar tendon in a no-contact situation. Former Fenerbahce center was taken out of the court in a stretcher and after the game coach Sergio Scariolo confirmed the seriousness of the injury, adding that the team will look for a replacement in the market: “He’s our cornerstone, both on attack and on defense. It’s dramatic, I hope that it serves to understand that you need to respect the players. Here there are stickers on the court everywhere, in the NBA it’s not the case. We will look for a replacement”.
Storyline: Ekpe Udoh Injury
However, if you ask former Suns forward Matt Barnes, the Suns aren’t favored to make it back to the Finals. In an episode of “The Jump”, Barnes had this to say. (via Fadeaway World, NBA on ESPN YouTube): “Love CP! Love Book! Experience is the best teacher and they have that now. But if the West is healthy, it’s going to be loaded, and it’s going to be tough [for the Suns] to get out. I wouldn’t bet on them, with all due respect. Like I said, great young team, one of the best floor generals we’ve ever seen in the history of this game. But again, a lot of things lined up perfect for them to do what they did last year.”