Toronto Raptors: What if DeMar DeRozan came back to Toronto?

DeMar DeRozan is apparently unhappy in San Antonio and there are two ways he can change that feeling. It’s possible the Toronto Raptors’discarded son could return home.

The Toronto Raptors drafted DeMar DeRozan in 2009 ninth overall at the NBA Draft. In terms of linking team success to player development, he was the most significant if not successful Raptors’ draft pick ever.

DeMar DeRozan once famously tweeted, “Don’t worry, I got us” after Chris Bosh left Toronto as a free agent to form a super team in Miami.

He became a double-digit scorer by his sophomore season and was one half of a dominant guard duo with his best friend and former teammate, Kyle Lowry. He was a four-time All-Star representing the Raptors and led the team to five consecutive playoff appearances between 2014-2018.

Then, suddenly came the betrayal after three consecutive years of failing to advance in the playoffs past the LeBron James led Cavaliers, Masai Ujiri apparently lied to DeRozan. A trade was completed sending DeRozan to the San Antonio Spurs.

Two years later, there is a chance DeMar DeRozan could return to Toronto as he appears to be unhappy in San Antonio, who missed the NBA playoffs in 2020.

How DeMar DeRozan can return to the Toronto Raptors

 

There are two ways DeMar DeRozan could return to the Toronto Raptors. DeRozan does have a player option, which means he could opt out of his contract this off-season and become a free agent.

It would mean giving up 27 million to take a chance that the Raptors or another team will spend to claim him during a period in which NBA franchises have lost a lot of revenue because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

DeMar DeRozan could demand a trade and insist he will only leave if the deal is to Toronto.  There is no guarantee the Spurs would acquiesce, and the Raptors would have to have the pieces San Antonio would require in a trade for DeRozan.

With around 78 million in salary guaranteed for next season and their own free agents like Fred VanVleet and Serge Ibaka to consider re-signing, it could be difficult for the Raptors to make a move for DeMar DeRozan but not impossible.

What DeMar DeRozan’s role could be in return to Toronto Raptors

 

DeMar DeRozan, who appeared on JJ Redick’s podcast ” The Old Man & the Three,” stated recently.

“I had such a close bond with all those guys, obviously everybody knows me and Kyle’s relationship. But especially those young guys, we moulded those guys and I never seen young dudes work as hard as they work when it comes to Freddy VanVleet, Norm, Pascal”

DeRozan also explained his relationship with these players, stating:

 “I was always constantly talking to them, keeping them positive if they lost a game, if they were going through something. Through the whole process I was talking to them.

There appears to be a strong bond between DeMar DeRozan and his former teammates, and there is no reason they couldn’t recapture that magic if he returns. At age 31, he has already been a leader of men in the NBA.

As Toronto’s starting shooting guard, he’d be a 1A or 1B scorer in return to Toronto, providing a relief valve for Pascal Siakam. He would be another mid-range scorer taking pressure off Pascal Siakam as opponents would have another scorer on the Raptors to worry about.

Can he forgive Masai Ujiri for the 2018 trade?

The other real drawback to a return of DeMar DeRozan to Toronto is his relationship with Masai Ujiri.  In an interview with Ernie Johnson, Masai Ujiri explained the moment that strained his relationship with DeMar DeRozan.

For his part, DeRozan was not happy about the Kawhi Leonard deal that sent himself and Jacob Poeltl to San Antonio.

“I felt like I wasn’t treated with what I sacrificed for nine years,”

The trade did help the Toronto Raptors become NBA champions. If DeMar DeRozan loves Toronto as he’s shown over his nine years here, he should be able to separate the emotion from the transaction’s practicality.

A return to Toronto does not mean he has to forgive Masai Ujiri. Business is business, and at age 31, DeMar DeRozan has few opportunities to become a champion, and the Toronto Raptors are still serious contenders in the NBA’s Eastern Conference. Finally, he has one year left on his deal, so if he were traded to Toronto, it’s an experience that would end quickly but successfully.