After the trade to the San Antonio Spurs, DeMar DeRozan spoke to one of Toronto’s best connections for advice.
DeMar DeRozan has not kept his displeasure a secret, since the trade that sent him, Jakob Poeltl and a 2019 first-round pick to the San Antonio Spurs for Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green. It stemmed from a communication breakdown with Raptors President of Basketball Operations Masai Ujiri.
DeRozan sat down with ESPN’s Chris Haynes to discuss the trade and how previous conversations went with Ujiri before he went to San Antonio. It did not clear the air between the two sides, but DeRozan did drop that he sought advice from Toronto’s own, Drake.
Yeah, the day it came out, I went to Drake’s house. Me and him sat and talked for a couple of hours. Not even on the hoops stuff. Just my partner. Just to hear the words that come from him being the person that he is in this world, especially in Toronto. What I meant to this city. It was what I needed.
It seemed to be a positive conversation for DeRozan, to hear how valuable he was to the city. He played there for nine years and once said “I am Toronto,” in 2016, when Ujiri presented a five-year, $139 million contract to the face of the franchise.
It’s a change for DeRozan, which is new in a previously steady nine-year career in Toronto. Most of it featured a similar core, including Kyle Lowry and Jonas Valanciunas, and 50-win seasons, until the Cleveland Cavaliers — noted in the interview — took down the Raptors in consecutive postseasons.
DeRozan will receive the chance to move forward in Team USA Basketball’s minicamp, helmed by Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, and they can start to connect and work towards a positive relationship for the 2018-19 season. It’s one that Kawhi Leonard will not attend, according to Haynes.
After that, the Spurs have training camp in late September and the 2018 preseason schedule that follows. Along with current connections in place from DeRozan’s time in Toronto, he should be able to acclimate as the year progresses.