Beyond Kevin Durant and Al Horford, DeMar DeRozan will probably be the biggest name to hit unrestricted free agency this summer. The final year of his contract with the Raptors would pay him about $10.5 million next season, and it’s virtually a lock that he’ll opt out given his All-Star caliber play this season and—more importantly—the projected salary cap spike of $20 million when the league’s new TV deal kicks in. DeRozan’s new deal would pay him upwards of $20 million annually, and given the amount of cap space teams around the league will have and the scarcity of elite shooting guards, there will be no shortage of teams lining up to make DeRozan an offer. However, he’s made it clear that all things being equal, he wants to stay where he is.
“That’s one you thing you can never question: my loyalty to the city,” DeRozan told host Joey Vendetta on the Jeff Blair Show. “How much I really love and appreciate the team and the organization. I think all the fans understand that. A lot of times they don’t understand how contracts or things like that. But I’ve always stressed that this is where I want to be my whole career.”
Apparently, the feeling is mutual. Raptors GM Masai Ujiri said in a TV interview recently that the Raptors are going to be aggressive about re-signing DeRozan and feel good about their chances:
“A new contract is what DeMar is going for and we feel we have a good shot,” Raptors GM Masai Ujiri said Thursday evening on Prime Time Sports. “This is his team, this is a team that he knows very well, loves the city, is well-loved here, and we can offer him a year extra. There are so many things, so we feel comfortable.”
The Lakers are a team that have long been linked to DeRozan, given his Los Angeles-area roots and their desire to make a splash in free agency. Plenty of other teams will make offers, too. But it sounds like there’s interest on both sides between DeRozan and the Raptors in bringing him back, and as long as Ujiri is willing to offer a full five-year max, it seems pretty likely that that’s what will end up happening.