Nov 4, 2018; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs shooting guard DeMar DeRozan (10) talks with head coach Gregg Popovich during the second half against the Orlando Magic at AT&T Center. (Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports)
Despite refuting the rumors, there’s still a chance that DeMar DeRozan wants to move on from the San Antonio Spurs. These are some of the potential suitors.
There’s escalating rhetoric that DeMar DeRozan doesn’t want to be with the San Antonio Spurs this time next year, but it’s not likely for him to take the traditional route. Should DeRozan decide that he wants to leave, opting out isn’t in his best interest. There aren’t very many teams with money to spend in free agency and most of the options aren’t serious playoff contenders.
Therefore, a sign-and-trade is probably in the best interest of the Spurs’ best player. Another team in a better situation for a win-now player in his prime could be willing to move on from assets to bring the former All-Star in. Despite not making one of those All-Star teams in a competitive Western Conference, DeRozan has become a more advanced version of himself as a player.
As of day, do you believe that DeMar DeRozan will be a member of the San Antonio Spurs next season? #GoSpursGo
— Air Alamo (@AirAlamo) October 24, 2020
Believe it or not, he’s become more reliable in late-game scenarios and has the wherewithal to become a veteran leader for a contending team. He can also be somewhat of a game-changer for younger teams looking to ascend from mediocre standing to legitimate playoff contender — Especially in the East.
Trading DeRozan from the San Antonio Spurs isn’t ideal, but it’ll bode well for the futures of both parties.
Next: Denver gets its third star
Apr 18, 2019; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs shooting guard DeMar DeRozan (10) shoots the ball past Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic (15) in the 2019 NBA Playoffs at AT&T Center. (Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports)
The San Antonio Spurs sign-and-trade DeMar DeRozan to the Denver Nuggets
An underrated possibility is that the San Antonio Spurs sign-and-trade DeRozan to another Western Conference team in the Denver Nuggets. This team nearly made its first Western Conference Finals appearance in this iteration last offseason and lost 4-1 in the Conference Finals this year. There’s significant reason to believe they have a chance to make the NBA Finals soon.
However, there’s a belief that they’re still a piece or two away and the Spurs might be able to help with that. DeRozan makes for a great complement to All-NBA center Nikola Jokic and the Robin to his Batman, Jamal Murray. Being that DeRozan is a playmaker himself, this pairing opens up opportunities for the other two while adding a reliable ball-handler and shot-creator to the lineup.
One deal that would benefit both parties is a double sign-and-trade in which the Nuggets send Gary Harris and Jerami Grant (sign-and-trade to three-year, $39 million deal) for DeRozan on a three-year, $75 million deal and power forward Trey Lyles. If the Spurs are moving two players, they may look for draft compensation as well, but Harris is a fantastic defender who can play multiple wing positions off the bench.
I wouldn’t have a problem proclaiming the Nuggets a top-three option to reach the NBA Finals if they make a deal like this one. Plus, DeRozan gets the money he deserves to be the stopgap between now and the Michael Porter Jr. takeover that seems imminent in Denver.
Next: Miami builds on its finals appearance
Jan 15, 2020; Miami, Florida, USA; San Antonio Spurs guard DeMar DeRozan (10) talks with Miami Heat forward Jimmy Butler (22) during the first half at American Airlines Arena. (Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports)
The Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs cash in on assets.
After reaching the NBA Finals, this Miami Heat team needs to prepare for a new look at the Eastern Conference. This group was suited well for the Orlando bubble experience with incredible work ethic, demeanor and focus as a collective. However, they’ll need some extra firepower and have been linked to DeRozan as recently as the trade deadline.
Bringing DeMar along for their first-round rookie, who they’ll pick at No. 19, and veteran Andre Iguodala should suffice for both parties. DeRozan would be more likely to take a pay cut if given the chance to compete for a title and live in a city as desirable as Miami. Plus, he already has a relationship with Jimmy Butler, who he played with in the 2016 Olympics. Meanwhile, San Antonio gets to bring back an interesting haul that helps guide them forward while providing a chance to remain competitive now.
On numerous occasions throughout his playing career, the San Antonio Spurs have checked in on the availability of veteran wing Andre Iguodala. Though he’s not the same player he once was and his contract is relatively unfavorable, it’s also a manageable deal for a player who remains a strong playmaker, solid defender and a decent catch-and-shoot 3-point marksman.
Plus, there are many interesting prospects who could land in Miami at No. 19 including two players that San Antonio has expressed interest in: Jalen Smith and Precious Achiuwa.
Next: Charlotte approaches a turning point
Jan 14, 2019; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs shooting guard DeMar DeRozan (10) shoots the ball over Charlotte Hornets small forward Nicolas Batum at AT&T Center. (Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports)
The San Antonio Spurs, DeRozan help the Charlotte Hornets get with the times
Believe it or not, I actually really like the infrastructure being built with the Charlotte Hornets. Besides the fact that they hired former San Antonio Spurs assistant James Borrego to be their head coach through this retooling period, Charlotte’s talent is intriguing. With Mitch Kupchak as general manager, Charlotte has made good decisions and is moving away from a culture of signing bad players to massive contracts and settling for mediocrity.
Making a deal with the Spurs to bring DeRozan back East help bring Charlotte back into the NBA Playoff race. As a matter of fact, the Hornets were one of the closest cuts from the Orlando restart and nearly made it in, finishing with a higher record than the Washington Wizards on the season despite being a young, untapped team.
San Antonio wouldn’t get a great haul, but it’d be better than nothing. It would include the expiring contract of French forward Nicolas Batum, who was once a triple-double machine. With proper health and in a sound role, Batum’s career could be revitalized in silver and black. They’d also get back Brooklyn’s 2021 second-round pick, but the prize of this deal is Jalen McDaniels.
A 22-year-old small forward who went to San Diego State, McDaniels showed promise in both the G League and in his regular-season minutes as a rookie. Playing for the Greensboro Swarm, McDaniels averaged 15.9 points, 7.7 rebounds, two steals and 1.1 blocks per game. He’s an impactful two-way athlete with great size and the potential to make an impact at multiple positions. It’s not a flashy move, but McDaniels is a Spurs breakout candidate waiting to happen.
Next: The New York Knicks find their savior
Feb 24, 2019; New York, NY, USA; San Antonio Spurs shooting guard DeMar DeRozan (10) drives to the basket against the New York Knicks during the third quarter at Madison Square Garden. (Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports)
The New York Knicks finally land a star.
This is the trickiest part of the whole equation. Obviously, the New York Knicks should be considered as part of the mix in this deal. They have a ton of expendable contracts and have sought after their go-to player for years upon years. They thought they had it in Kristaps Porzingis until the big man got into some hot water and the two parties moved on via trade.
After years of being tormented by DeMar DeRozan in the Atlantic Conference, the New York Knicks have a great opportunity to establish something new. Previously, I discussed the potential for New York to sign-and-trade for DeRozan after making a move for Chris Paul. This is still a possibility, but even without Paul, DeRozan could be the first big draw to push the Knicks toward the playoff picture. After all, their young core hasn’t shown much promise outside of Mitchell Robinson’s otherworldly athletic ability and shot rejection.
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Here is the list of players the Spurs could target in a sign-and-trade: Julius Randle, Mitchell Robinson, Bobby Portis, Moe Harkless, Kevin Knox, Frank Ntilikina and R.J. Barrett. Chances are, the guys you’re interested in here are off the table, but you never know. It’s worth it to inquire about whichever players that Spurs GM Brian Wright and head coach Gregg Popovich are interested in grooming within the team’s system.
DeRozan’s financial opportunities in New York would be plentiful and he’s no stranger to the cold weather. He’d get to be the face of the most lucrative franchise in pro basketball, but that comes with heavy criticism for a player who already faces stigmas. This is the option I’m least interested in of the bunch for DeRozan’s sake and because the Spurs’ return would be minimal. However, it could work if the pieces fall into place.
Whether he opts in, out, or gets signed and traded, the San Antonio Spurs fanbase will remember DeMar fondly and always respect his time with the franchise.