DeMar DeRozan may not be the best player in the NBA. And yes, he’s getting similar money per year to LeBron James & Kevin Durant, but that doesn’t mean DeRozan isn’t worth a max contract. In a free agency flooded with the most money in NBA history, DeMar DeRozan is absolutely worth 145 million dollars to the Toronto Raptors.
Would the all of the other 29 teams line up to pay DeRozan a max contract?
No, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t deserve it. DeRozan has worked to improve his game every summer and the results have shown every year. From improving his passing to his shooting he has done it all with the exception of defense. Even if DeRozan is close to reaching his peak, the contract isn’t bad. He’s only 27 years old and barring any career ending injury his game isn’t going to fall off a cliff anytime soon.
If the Raptors would have let DeRozan walk what else could they have done?
The short answer is not a whole lot.
Since the Raptors held DeRozan’s bird rights they could go over the cap to re-sign him. So it’s not like the Raptors could have swapped DeMar DeRozan for a player like Nic Batum even if they thought Batum was better. It’s clear in the short-term the Raptors would have been worse if they let DeRozan walk. In the long-term, the Raptors would have had more cap flexibility. However, the Raptors currently have the best team they have ever had in franchise history. The window is now.
Does keeping DeRozan hinder the growth of Powell and Valanciunas?
It might a little bit, but it’s not something the Raptors should concern themselves with. Norman Powell is a perfect fit for a 6th man role where he can bring energy off the bench. Jonas Valanciunas’s growth is more tied to how, Raptors coach, Dwane Casey uses him than whether or not DeRozan is taking touches from him. If Casey decides to run plays for Valanciunas you will see his game expand.
Does paying DeRozan guarantee Kyle Lowry will re-sign next summer?
No. Lowry is older and will be harder to justify giving a 5-year max contract to. It doesn’t mean the Raptors won’t, but if they do they will be locked into this core of players without the ability to add significant talent via free agency due to cap constraints.
Is DeRozan’s contract tradable?
If the Raptors feel in a couple seasons that their window has passed they can flip DeRozan for assets. Now it’s a not lock the Raptors would get close to 100 cents on the dollar, but even if they got 75 cents, that’s still better than the 0 cents they would get if they let him walk this summer. In the modern NBA where shooting guard is arguably the weakest position DeRozan has a lot of value.
DeMar DeRozan is a top 3 shooting guard in the Eastern Conference. And you could even make a case for him being the best because Jimmy Butler couldn’t get the Bulls to the playoffs last season. People like to say DeRozan is an inefficient player because he takes a lot of mid-range shots and they aren’t wrong. However, he’s one of the best in the NBA at drawing fouls. He’s improved his 3-point shooting to almost 34% last season. He’s a solid passer for a wing player averaging 4 assists per game. And he’s also a solid rebounder averaging 4.5 rebounds per game. If DeRozan can figure out how to be even a 25% better defender he could be a lock for an all-star selection every season.