Instead of losing Kawhi Leonard in the 2019 NBA free agency without getting anything in return, the San Antonio Spurs decided to trade “The Klaw” last summer, sending him to the Toronto Raptors in exchange for a trade package centered on DeMar DeRozan. The move somewhat helped the Spurs remain competitive in the deep Western Conference, which was proven by their 22nd consecutive playoff appearance in the 2018-19 NBA season.
However, in DeRozan’s first postseason in San Antonio, the Spurs suffered an early playoff exit after a thrilling seven-game series against the Denver Nuggets. Despite failing to advance to the second round of the Western Conference Playoffs for the second straight year, the Spurs still don’t have any plan of having a huge roster overhaul this summer. According to Mike Finger of The San Antonio Express-News, instead of trading DeRozan for assets that could help them speed up the rebuilding process, the Spurs are exploring the possibility of offering the All-Star shooting guard a maximum contract extension before the start of the 2019-20 NBA season.
“[Gregg] Popovich genuinely likes the group he has assembled in San Antonio, and after outsiders speculated DeMar DeRozan might be used as trade bait this offseason, all indications are that the Spurs value his presence and want to keep him around,” Finger wrote, as quoted by Bleacher Report. “They have not yet offered him a maximum contract extension, but they have not ruled out the possibility of doing so before the season begins, either.”
— B/R Kicks (@brkicks) August 7, 2019
It wouldn’t be a surprise if the Spurs did give DeRozan a massive contract extension, especially considering they aren’t keen of a full-scale rebuild. However, it is also hard to blame some people for questioning if keeping DeRozan long term in San Antonio is a wise move. DeRozan may have had a solid debut season with the Spurs, averaging 21.2 points, 6.0 rebounds, 6.2 assists and 1.1 steals while shooting 48.1 percent from the field. However, he only shot 15.6 percent from beyond the arc on o.6 attempts per game.
DeRozan is undeniably an All-Star caliber player, but he lacks the skill that is badly needed in the modern NBA game. Aside from his inability to efficiently knock down shots from the three-point range, giving DeRozan a maximum contract extension will affect the Spurs’ salary cap flexibility for a long period of time. DeRozan may be able to help the Spurs extend their playoff streak, but there remains a big question mark over whether he has what it takes to lead them back to the NBA Finals and end their title drought.