For almost the entire NBA season the rumor mill belched out reports of DeMar DeRozan’s desire to sign a max-contract with the Los Angeles Lakers. A linkage of the two in the offseason seemed inevitable as the Lakers would purvey DeRozan with an amenity that the Toronto Raptors could not: the ability to play in his own backyard.
DeRozan was born and raised in Compton, Ca., and it would make sense that locality, factored in with the Lakers’ lucrative lure, would be enough to woo DeRozan to Los Angeles.
But according to intel from ESPN’s Tim McMahon, DeRozan intends to only meet with Toronto once free agency opens up on July 1st, hoping to re-up as quickly as possible with the team he’s spent his entire nine-year career with.
DeMar DeRozan is a smart man. No amount of coaxing by the Lakers should be enough to sway him to ink a deal with them. DeRozan, along with backcourt mate Kyle Lowry, just led the Raptors to their most prosperous season in franchise history, with the team setting marks in wins (56), along with clinching their first ever Eastern Conference Finals berth, where they were slayed in six games by the eventual champion Cleveland Cavaliers.
DeRozan is in the prime of his career and will be 27-years-old in August. Los Angeles is not tailored for DeRozan, as they’re in the midst of a full-blown youth movement. DeRozan’s presence could serve as some type of gravitonal pull that could eventually net the Lakers better, and more established personnel, but that process could take years to fully unfurl, even if it is the Lakers.
If you’re DeRozan, do you want to have to fend off West behemoths like the Golden State Warriors, Oklahoma City Thunder and Minnesota Timberwolves, who would’ve more than likely have arrived by the time DeRozan is positioned to compete for a championship in Los Angeles, or would you rather take your chances in the wide-open East? (obviously excluding Cleveland.)
The Lakers do have some intriguing pieces they could move to flank DeRozan with the talent to make a title push, but that is leaving things to chance which is a very dangerous practice in not only professional sports, but life as well.
Dissipating peak years to help Los Angeles resurface to relevance when there’s a much better opportunity to be successful with the Raptors would be foolish.
Toronto isn’t primed to dethrone King James and his compadres as currently fashioned, but with the addition of some more talent this summer, they’ll pose a very respectable threat next season.
DeRozan can also continue to augment his legacy with the Raptors if he indeeds does re-sign in the “6.”
DeRozan is already top-three for Toronto in games played, minutes played, and field goals amongst other statistical measures. His squads have precipitated some of the biggest amounts of opulence the Raptors have seen, even more than that of his counterparts Chris Bosh and Vince Carter.
He can go down as one of, if not the most revered Raptor of all-time, and why should he relinquish that to simply be another chain in the Laker link?
The Raptors signed head coach Dwane Casey to a three-year, $18 million contract extension earlier this month, which illustrates their intentions to keep this core intact. DeRozan abandoning them for the Lakers would sabotage not only their plans of marching back to the Conference Finals, but it would serve as a hinderance to his career as well.
According to Sam Amick of USA Today Sports, the Miami Heat, Los Angeles Clippers, New York Knicks and Orlando Magic want to secure meetings along with DeRozan, along with the Warriors and Lakers.
It’ll be interesting to see if DeRozan wavers from his current stance of refusing to convene with any team not named the Raptors. DeRozan is a pretty sizable free agent domino, and his contract talks will more than likely hem up Bismack Biymobo, whom the Raptors also deem as a priority to re-sign this offseason.
Earlier I mentioned an amenity the Lakers can offer Toronto. Los Angeles may be able to assure DeRozan big bucks and the opportunity to play in the comfy confines of California, but they’d also be selling him on uncertainty. For him, that should be enough to say no thanks.