DeMar DeRozan’s future with or without the Raptors


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By L.C.

Much has been made recently of the news surrounding current Toronto Raptors guard DeMar DeRozan opting out of his contract to test the free agent waters this summer. At first that sounds alarming but if you dig a little deeper and do some research, you would eventually find out that the NBA Salary Cap is expected to rise significant amounts ($22 million dollars in fact- maybe more).

That would mean, my dear friends and listeners, that DeRozan opting out to get a pay raise is what any normal human being would do. If he stays with Toronto he’s going to get paid anyways so the story focus should be more about what the Raptors will do with or without him in the near future since things could begin to get interesting.

Heading into this summer – depending on what happens in the playoffs – the Raptors will possess the New York Knicks first round pick (Thanks Andrea Bargnani) along with a Knicks second rounder in 2017. Not to mention Toronto still have their own first round pick in 2016 which gives them ample of options if general manager Masai Ujiri wants to move one. In all honesty, it looks like a safer bet he dangles one of those picks out there in order to acquire some roster help.

So what if in the summer DeRozan returns? He will get a major raise and will come back to a Raptors team that have some decisions to make with a number of key positions. Kyle Lowry has a player option (like DeRozan) in 2017/18 which should make things even more interesting when that time comes and only DeMarre Carroll, Jonas Valanciunas and Cory Joseph are key roster players locked up long term. The Raptors also have four young players in Bruno Caboclo, Delon Wright, Norman Powell and Lucas Nogueira all of whom have a legitimate chance to develop with the team.

Meanwhile, Luis Scola will be a free agent at season’s end and with Patrick Patterson’s ineffective play thus far, the Raptors could decide to target a starting power forward through trade with one of their draft picks. One name being tossed out there is current Atlanta Hawks big man Al Horford who will be an unrestricted free agent at season’s end. It’s probably an unrealistic idea but if Horford happened to hit the open market, the Raptors would likely show some interest (depending on the DeRozan outcome). Another scenario could see the Raptors pursuing current Charlotte Hornets swingman Nicolas Batum, whom Toronto shared mutual interest with this past off-season

before he landed in Charlotte. If DeRozan leaves it could open the door for the Raptors to pursue a player like Batum who could either play the three or four with Terrence Ross slotting into whatever position Batum doesn’t play.

That in itself raises another question as Ross’ inconsistencies have left him in the doghouse with a lot of fans. Ross signed an extension earlier this year much to the dismay of many Raptors supporters, but considering the upcoming cap situation it was actually a very smart move by Ujiri as Ross could eventually be regarded as a reasonable and youthful asset. Partner him with one of their draft picks and the Raptors could acquire someone through trade to either help them at the three or four position.

What fans need to remember is that there is still a long way to go this season. The Raptors currently sit at 25-15, a very respectable record, and are second in the much improved Eastern Conference. They have managed to succeed without Carroll and Valanciunas in their lineup as both have missed time with injury. While Carroll doesn’t have an official timetable to return, the Raptors have been able to make do without their prized free agent signing which goes a long way in showing how much DeRozan and Lowry have stepped up in his absence. Not to mention they have gotten some help from 23 year-old fan favourite Bismack Biyombo who filled in admirably for Valanciunas when he was injured. That, partnered with the Raptors much improved defence, has helped guide Toronto thus far.

The only thing that matters this year is for Toronto to make noise in the playoffs. By then Carroll should be fully healthy and barring any other substantial injuries, Toronto should have what it takes to move on past the first round and at least make an impact come post-season. If they fail to do so a lot more changes will be coming this summer, but let’s not think negatively shall we?

Until then Raptors fans, enjoy and get behind your team as they have done enough to warrant it.


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