DeMar DeRozan has agreed in principle to a five-year contract worth more than $139 million to remain with the Toronto Raptors, according to The Vertical’s Shams Charania. DeRozan has stated on several occasions that he’d love to spend his entire career wth the Raptors, and it appears the negotiation was not a difficult one. He ended up agreeing to take a little less than his max, but more than any other team could have paid him.
Five things to know:
1. DeRozan’s connection to the city of Toronto can’t be underestimated here
He arrived as a 19-year-old project and now he’s a two-time All-Star with an opportunity to win his second gold medal this summer. He lived through four losing seasons, and wanted to be one of the players who helped turn the Raptors around. After two heartbreaking playoff exits, they advanced to the Eastern Conference finals and won two games against the eventual champions this past season. The franchise has never been in a better place, and DeRozan is comfortable with the organization. It would be a weird time to leave.
2. Toronto wants to take the next step, not go backwards
Some argued that the front office shouldn’t invest this much money in a shooting guard who doesn’t have consistent 3-point range. The Raptors would have had a hard time replacing his production, though, and their goal is to keep building on the success they’ve had. DeRozan is a 26-year-old All-Star who wants to be there and improves every year — letting him walk just did not fit into the plan.
3. DeRozan still has upside
Despite being a seven-year veteran, there is still room for improvement here. He just finished the most efficient season of his career, and his development as a ballhandler and passer has allowed him to become a high-usage pick-and-roll guy. Few saw that coming when he signed his controversial extension at the beginning of the 2012-13 season, and he’ll try to prove this round of critics wrong by getting better as a defender and a shooter.
4. DeRozan is on track to be the most accomplished Raptor ever
Chris Bosh left Toronto the summer before his eighth season. Vince Carter was already gone. By the middle of next year, DeRozan will likely be the franchise’s all-time leader in points, minutes and games played. Before he and Kyle Lowry teamed up in the backcourt, the Raptors had never won 50 games and had only escaped the first round of the playoffs once. His job is now about getting Toronto to the next level. Which brings us to …
5. How do the Raptors get better now?
OK, so Toronto has avoided losing DeRozan for nothing. That is a nice start to the offseason, but the Raptors need to make more moves to make progress. Bismack Biyombo is an unrestricted free agent who wants to stay, but they do not have his Bird rights. Would they consider trading center Jonas Valanciunas in order to keep him? Maybe they could get Nerlens Noel from Philadelphia for a package centered around Terrence Ross — ESPN’s Zach Lowe reported that Toronto approached the Sixers to talk about it. Ujiri has been patient in building this team, but he has been aggressive at times, too.
Courtesy: CBS Sports