Toronto Raptors: Is DeMar DeRozan Worth a Max Deal?


Toronto Raptors: Is DeMar DeRozan Worth a Max Deal?

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Ahead of the Toronto Raptors 2014-15 campaign, Sports Illustrated released their top 100 NBA players of 2015. As you can imagine, this drew quite a lot of attention from Southern Ontario, especially with the often-held belief that Canadian sports teams get no respect from their colleagues south of the border.

As much as I have never fully invested into this theory, Sports Illustrated‘s results actually gave some credence to it. What particular stood out, was the decision to rank DeMar DeRozan in 61st place.

This just seemed plain wrong, and an overwhelming 94 percent of our audience agreed. For his part, DeRozan took to Twitter to say he found his ranking disrespectful and was going to prove them wrong.

Apr 18, 2015; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Raptors guard DeMar DeRozan (10) warms up prior to game one of the first round of the NBA Playoffs against the Washington Wizards at Air Canada Centre. Washington defeated Toronto 93-86. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Keep in mind the Compton, California native was coming off a season where he finished tenth in scoring, averaging 22.7 points per game. Throw in 4.0 assists and 4.3 rebounds per contest, and you had a player worthy of being placed higher than 61.

What made it even more frustrating was some of the players ranked above DeRozan. The list included the likes of Chandler Parsons, Nicolas Batum, Tyson Chandler, Brook Lopez and Paul Millsap.

In any event, I’m sure you’re all wondering why the heck I’m referencing an article from nine months ago? Well, think about how much we all felt DeRozan was being disrespected, truly believing he was a much better player.

Now, take those thoughts and compare/contrast them to the recent reports that the 25-year old is seeking a max deal next summer, which will reportedly be worth around $25.3 million. Ask yourself – do you genuinely believe he is worth it?

DeRozan does have a player option for the 2016-17 season, worth $9.5 million. However, he is expected to turn this down, especially taking into account that the salary cap is set to increase significantly, due to the NBA’s new television contract.

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Unsurprisingly, as Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun wrote, the Raptors don’t feel comfortable about paying so much for one player. Regardless of how much the cap is expected to rise, DeRozan is not worth 25 percent of the wage bill.

More specifically, Toronto does not view their 2009 ninth overall draft pick as a franchise-type player, a la Lebron James or Kevin Durant. As good as DeRozan is, it’s tough to disagree with this assessment.

You could even argue that the Raptors shooting guard regressed this past season. In virtually every significant category – with the exception of total rebounds and free-throw percentage – his figures decreased from the 2013-14 campaign.

Being objective, it’s only fair to say these statistics were likely affected by injury issues, which forced DeRozan to miss 22 games. But it did feel like he took a step back during the 2014-15 season.

Of course, if he were to rebound with a career-year, suddenly he finds himself in a better bargaining position. The fact the 2014 All-Star is set to become an unrestricted free agent next summer, will only motivate him to show the Raptors and the rest of the NBA what he can do, and why he is worthy of a max deal.

In all likelihood, someone will offer DeRozan a max contract, forcing the Raptors to decide if they want to match the deal. No matter what path Masai Ujiri and company choose, you figure they will have some regrets.