If the rumors are true, then DeMar DeRozan could well be on his way out of the San Antonio Spurs any day now. However, he is not the player the Toronto Raptors need right now.
As a member of the Toronto Raptors, DeMar DeRozan likely goes down as one of the greatest of all-time. DeRozan leads the all-time Raptors leaderboard in games played, points, field-goals made, minutes played, and free-throws made and attempted. In his 675 games played as a Raptor, he certainly made some memories.
He was the shining light for the Raptors alongside Kyle Lowry as the Raptors began the most successful period in franchise history, one that culminated with a title victory last season. However, as we know, DeRozan wasn’t a part of that success – even if he did pave the way for it.
DeRozan was the centerpiece in the Raptors trade for Kawhi Leonard, one which sent him to the San Antonio Spurs to be a part of one of the most consistent franchises in sports history. DeRozan and the Spurs finished with a record of 48-34 in his first season in Texas but were bounced out of the playoffs in the first round by the Denver Nuggets.
Now, the Spurs have a record of 6-13 to start the season and are precariously close to imploding for the first time under Gregg Popovich. That uncharacteristic start has led to the rumors that the Spurs could well be willing to move on from DeRozan if they can find a potential suitor.
Somewhat unsurprisingly, the Toronto Raptors have been touted as one of the aforementioned suitors for DeRozan. A recent article from HoopsHype saw NBA executives be asked the question of what the current trade market is for DeRozan, remarkably, this was said:
“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.”
Not to be a stickler in the mud, or to come across as anti-DeRozan, but that is a deal that doesn’t make any sense for the Raptors. Both Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka, despite lucrative salaries, are mainstays and should both be seen as important cogs in a paper-thin center rotation for the Raptors.
It’s not just this deal that doesn’t make any sense for the Raptors, it’s any deal that involves DeRozan. That’s no slight on a franchise legend, but the way the team operates doesn’t facilitate the use of a player like him.
Offensively, the Raptors have refined their game under Nick Nurse and they take the seventh-most three-pointers in the NBA and own the highest three-point percentage in the league. DeRozan’s game is historically the opposite of floor-spacing. This season, in 19 games, DeRozan has only taken two three-pointers. The Raptors gameplan can’t afford that sort of production in such a large role.
In general, this team’s identity is based on incredible defense. The Raptors own the fourth-best defensive rating in the NBA, while the Spurs own the 26th best. While that isn’t all down to DeRozan, it’s widely known that he is not a good defender. His defense was often targeted in the playoffs by LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers, and there just isn’t any reason to go through that again.
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DeRozan is a great player, there is no denying it. He will likely make any team he goes to better, but that team just isn’t the Toronto Raptors. While it would be a nice homecoming at first, it would be viewed, rightfully so, as a mistake.