DeMar DeRozan is essentially in the same boat as James Harden. Not the one that will sail him into the max contract territory that Harden is pursuing with the Thunder of course, but DeRozan similarly has until Oct. 31 to work out a contract extension with his team, or else become a restricted free agent on July 1.
It appears that the Raptors are willing to let DeRozan play the season out, and take their chances with the offers that may come in next summer. According to a report from Doug Smith of the Toronto Star, it’s unlikely that the two sides will agree on an extension. And Smith believes that’s the best course of action.
No sense, in my mind, in tying up big bucks for years to come on promise; it makes far more sense to see what the season is like, see how DeRozan develops and find out what the market is like next summer.
Doesn’t mean they don’t want him, and he’s had an excellent pre-season for the most part, and it’s not like there should be any acrimony as the Oct. 31 deadline comes and goes.
It means the Raptors are being financially prudent, keeping open some flexibility for next summer when they might be able to make some free agency moves if need be.
DeRozan’s case is a difficult one for the Raptors. He’s showed signs in his first three seasons as a productive scorer, and seems to have the athletic tools to continue to improve offensively. Playing on horrendous teams certainly doesn’t help a young player to develop, and with defensive-minded head coach Dwane Casey now entering his second season in Toronto, there may be an opportunity for DeRozan to improve at that end of the floor, as well.
DeRozan has averaged in the neighborhood of 17 points per game as a starter over the past two years, but has seen his field goal percentage decrease in all three of his NBA seasons. He doesn’t contribute much in the way of assists or rebounds, and has yet to add legitimate and consistent three-point shooting to his offensive arsenal.
Still, all the tools are in place for DeRozan to have a breakout season. If he does, and his value on the open market ends up skyrocketing, it will cost the Raptors much more than expected if they decide to match any offer he receives in restricted free agency. But the team is taking the conservative route by making DeRozan play his way there, and it’s likely that this turns out to be the best course of action for both parties.