All-Star shooting guard DeMar DeRozan was the main trade chip that the Toronto Raptors used to acquire Kawhi Leonard from the San Antonio Spurs in the summer of 2018. He later admitted that he was disappointed by the deal, especially knowing the commitment he has shown just to put the Raptors back on the NBA map again. However, despite how things ended between them, the latest rumors suggest that the team may consider bringing DeRozan back to Toronto before the February trade deadline.
In his recent article, Greg Swartz of Bleacher Report created a list of trade deadline targets who could change the game for some teams in this year’s playoffs. For the Raptors, he thinks that a reunion with DeRozan makes a lot of sense.
“The Raptors, like the Heat, Celtics, Pacers and 76ers, are all looking for separation in what could become an arms race behind the Bucks in the Eastern Conference. For Toronto, reuniting with DeRozan would make a lot of sense. While the Raptors are an elite defensive squad (104.5 rating, second in the NBA), their offense is only 14th overall (110.4 rating), just barely behind a Pacers team that’s about to get Victor Oladipo back. The Raptors boast one of the best starting units in the NBA, but their weakest point is at small forward, which is where DeRozan has spent 76 percent of his time over the past two seasons.”
Though his floor-spacing ability remains an issue, bringing DeRozan back would undeniably be a great move for the Raptors, especially if they are serious about staying competitive this season. He would give the Raptors much-needed additional star power and a very reliable option on the offensive end of the floor. This season, the 30-year-old shooting guard is averaging 22.7 points, 5.7 rebounds, 5.2 assists, and one steal while shooting 53.4 percent from the field.
His departure from Toronto may have been filled with controversies, but DeRozan might welcome a return to the team that selected him as the No. 9 overall pick in the 2009 NBA Draft. With the years he spent in Toronto, he may no longer need to familiarize himself with the Raptors. The potential move would also allow him to reunite with his best friend and former backcourt partner, Kyle Lowry.
To acquire DeRozan, Swartz suggested that the Raptors could offer a trade package including Serge Ibaka or Marc Gasol to the Spurs. However, San Antonio is unlikely to ship DeRozan just to have salary-cap relief. In any potential deal involving the All-Star shooting guard, the Spurs are expected to demand assets, preferably a young player and/or a future draft pick, that could help them speed up the rebuilding process.