Mar 1, 2021; San Antonio, Texas, USA; San Antonio Spurs forward DeMar DeRozan (10) looks over in the first half against the Brooklyn Nets at the AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports
Should the San Antonio Spurs think about trading DeMar DeRozan?
When DeMar DeRozan‘s critics want to try to bring him down, they usually point to his Toronto Raptors days and his playoff letdowns as black marks on his resume. But all of that “DeFrozen” slander should halt be drowned out by how impressive he has been in the second act of his career as the catalyst of the San Antonio Spurs‘ new and fresh attack.
Heading into the All-Star break with an 18-14 record, the Silver and Black have defied expectations so far, overcoming key injuries and a long COVID stoppage to disrupt the playoff race out Western Conference. Currently in possession of the seventh seed with ample time to improve their standing, the Spurs should be primed to get back on the postseason after last year’s absence.
While things are certainly on the rise for these young Spurs, question marks remain. Still somewhere between a complete rebuild and win-now aspirations, one of the league’s winningest franchises finds itself at crossroads.
The biggest question facing the Spurs going forward is what to do with DeMar DeRozan. A perennial All-Star who has once been branded as one of the league’s most stubborn adherents to the mid-range game, his elevated play this season has undoubtedly raised his value across the league.
Averaging 20 points, 4.9 rebounds and 7.2 assists per outing on some of the most efficient shooting of his career, DeRozan’s stock is as high as ever. Should the Spurs strike while the iron is hot and try to trade him while his stock is high, or commit themselves to continuity and see how far this group can go?
Next: The case for trading DeMar DeRozan
Trading DeMar DeRozan could help the San Antonio Spurs continue their rebuild
When a star player spearheads a winning team, it is easy to quash any trade talk and render him untouchable. However, DeMar DeRozan’s contract is a strong counter to that argument.
On an expiring deal and viewed as a valuable commodity across the league, the San Antonio Spurs could surely get an abundance of assets in return for DeRozan, even if their trade partner viewed him as a rental.
While the Spurs are back to their winning ways, the organization should still face reality – this is not a team that is equipped to contend for a title. As entertaining as the mix of veterans and youngsters has been, this group can only go so far. DeRozan is nearing 32 and pushing him as the leader of this team might not be an ideal pathway to success.
Trading DeRozan now could push San Antonio further into a rebuild but it’s not a loss they would be unable to endure. Boasting impressive talents in the backcourt and on the wing, the team has the cushion to absorb losing DeMar and still remain competitive.
The opening left by DeRozan could actually enable the youngsters to showcase themselves more and without deference. DeJounte Murray, Derrick White, Lonnie Walker, Keldon Johnson, Devin Vassell, and Luka Samanic all figure to eclipse their current numbers with greater opportunities on the court.
A trade to, say the Orlando Magic for Aaron Gordon and Mo Bamba, or the Atlanta Hawks for a package around John Collins, would clear up a positional logjam without sacrificing the speedy and disruptive scheme of the squad. Either one of these deals would also help fill out the Spurs frontcourt, an area that is still in need of talent.
If such an offer is presented before the trade deadline, then the Spurs front office should at least consider it. A short-term nosedive in wins for a long-term benefit could be the move for an organization that has repeatedly preached patience as one of its core tenants.
Next: The case against trading DeRozan
Trading DeRozan would be a mistake for the small-market San Antonio Spurs
The idea of getting back young talents in exchange for an expiring star player seems appealing but this is a dystopian market view of the NBA. This maneuver is only possible if the players in return show commitment to their new homes. And in a league that safeguards bigger markets, even a seemingly bargain trade suddenly verges on peril.
San Antonio, while heralded as one of the league’s most successful organizations, is not a big market. Consider this, the five-time world champions’ most-prized free-agent acquisition in franchise history is LaMarcus Aldridge back in the summer of 2015.
Signing LaMarcus was huge for the Spurs but that he’s the only noteworthy free agent signing in the past decade speaks volumes about the team’s ability to attract players from other teams.
In the earlier mentioned trade scenarios, either one of Gordon or Collins could jettison to more alluring markets rather than stay in the Alamo City for a big chunk of their primes. The Spurs culture is its best-selling point, but the team is not yet back to the perennial contender it was in 2015 when it had the influence to upend the tempting streets and booming salaries available to flashier organizations.
As established, the market is not kind and fair enough for the Spurs to let go of someone as talented and decorated as DeRozan. Trading him for additions to the young core, who may also be rentals themselves and without a guaranteed fit, is not only uncharacteristic for the Silver and Black; it is also a hasty proposition.
Instead, Brian Wright, Gregg Popovich, and co. should do everything in their power to resist the market urge to trade DeRozan and keep him for the foreseeable future.
As seen with their success so far in the season, DeRozan is a seamless veteran whose playstyle meshes well with this Spurs attack predicated on constant penetration, quick decision-making, and breakneck pace.
Not only that, but his leadership has enabled players like Murray, White, Johnson and Walker to develop right as the Spurs have hoped they would. For a squad that values corporate knowledge and heady veteran control, DeMar DeRozan looks to be the best star to pair with the young core.
With all circumstances aboard, the San Antonio Spurs should feel good about both their present and future. No matter what they decide to do with DeRozan, the future of this team is in good hands.