Storyline: DeMar DeRozan Trade

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Alex Kennedy: Fred VanVleet texted me this quote in response to the Spurs-Raptors trade. I added it to our recent Q&A, which was a wide-ranging conversation covering a ton of topics.

4 weeks ago via ESPN

Bobby Marks, ESPN: Here are the financial implications for Toronto by acquiring Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green: The Raptors now have a payroll of $139.1M and a current tax bill of $29.8M. Danny Green is in the last year of his contract with a cap hit of $10M. Leonard will have a cap hit of $23.1M (including the trade bonus) and has a $21.3M player option for 2019-20. If Leonard elects to leave as a free agent in 2019, Toronto will have $101.6M in guaranteed salary and will be over the salary cap based on the team options of Pascal Siakam ($2.4M), Malachi Richardson ($2.6M), OG Anunoby ($2.3M) and $7.6M free agent hold of Delon Wright. The Raptors could create some flexibility if Jonas Valanciunas ($17.6M) and CJ Miles ($8.7M) opt-out of their contract. If Leonard returns, the first year cap hit projects to be $32.7M. In 2020-21, Toronto only has the $10.9M Norman Powell salary and $3.9M OG Anunoby team option counting against the cap.

MARC STEIN: The Spurs’ asking price for a player regarded as the league’s most menacing two-way force when healthy, for the moment, is thus still said to be rather high. But I have little doubt Ujiri is willing to trade any Raptor on the roster if he finds a deal he likes — even after LeBron James’ departure to the Western Conference. The Raptors, I’m told, held exploratory discussions in the summer of 2017 with Minnesota on a deal that would have been headlined by DeRozan and the Timberwolves’ Canadian swingman Andrew Wiggins. No trade materialized, but it reaffirms the notion that not even DeRozan, at the peak of his career, is untouchable in Toronto.
1 month ago via ESPN

I know this might sound like a roll of the dice, but if I’m the Raptors, I would pick up the phone and tell Spurs GM R.C. Buford that he can choose a package featuring DeMar DeRozan. Yes, I get that you’d be giving up three years of DeRozan for Leonard’s expiring contract. But let’s face it: Toronto is third in the East pecking order behind Boston and Philadelphia. With LeBron out West, I would take a chance on Leonard if he looks healthy. Add Danny Green’s $10 million contract to Leonard, and a deal for DeRozan works.

Q: Who is more likely to be traded: Kyle Lowry or DeMar DeRozan? — Mike (Cambridge, Ontario) Marc STEIN: I reported before the recent N.B.A. draft that the Raptors’ roster featured no untouchables, amid a growing buzz that Toronto was trying to trade its way into the top 10. Now? After LeBron James announced that he’s leaving the Eastern Conference after eight straight trips to the N.B.A. finals? I’m inclined to believe that both of Toronto’s cornerstone guards will start the season right where we last saw them.
2 months ago via TSN

Of the two, moving DeRozan seems more conceivable. At 28, turning 29 in August, he’s younger than Lowry (32), makes less annually and plays a position that’s of greater need to most teams – meaning his market value is likely higher. He may also be more expendable. Although DeRozan proved adaptable last season, at least more so than many expected, Lowry still projects as being a better fit in Nurse’s system – predicated on three-point shooting and positional versatility on the defensive end. Still, factoring in everything that would need to fall into place to make a blockbuster, franchise-altering type of deal work, the safe bet is on both DeRozan and Lowry remaining with the Raptors.

Exec weighs in: “Three years, that’s the big number. They’re going to want a draft pick in a package for him, and there aren’t a lot of teams that are going to include possibly good picks or young players for a guy who is kind of a square peg in today’s league. It’s not saying DeRozan doesn’t have value, it’s just that you’d have to adjust your whole offense for him. You can’t just stick him on the Pelicans, for example, because he wouldn’t pair up with Anthony Davis well. There’s too many obstacles.”

One name brought up often in recent days has been Toronto’s DeMar DeRozan, who could become available should the Raptors look to make wholesale changes following a third straight loss to LeBron James and the Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference playoffs. Wiggins’ Canadian roots could make him an attractive option for the Raptors and good reason to hope that they could get the best out of him while playing in his backyard. In some ways, DeRozan could provide a good blueprint for Wiggins to follow. DeRozan didn’t become a real star in the league until his fifth year and has proven to be effective even though he isn’t a knockdown three-point shooter. But his game is also similar to Butler’s, so it is hard to see how a swap like that would give the Wolves what they are looking for in terms of a different look aside their leader.
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