DeMar DeRozan built himself into a legitimate star for the Raptors. Then, they traded him for Kawhi Leonard. That caused plenty of resentment – both from DeRozan and his friend Kyle Lowry, who remained in Toronto. Lowry eventually got over it. Now, the Raptors are in the NBA Finals.
How does DeRozan feel about all that now?
People got to understand, my best friend is Kyle. So, I’m rooting for my friend to do well, to accomplish something that we tried to do all them years. And he has the opportunity to do it. Some guys on the team, they know I’m rooting for them.
If it wasn’t for all the years and groundwork that I did before then, none of them things would’ve been possible. Yes, I fought. I sacrificed. I pushed the limits to where I had to be the sacrificial lamb. You just have to sit back and understand you are the reason so many things was even possible.
To their credit, they probably felt like it was time to see what we could get to make that next jump.
DeRozan and Lowry share a special bond. I’m glad it remains intact, even after the trade. Fans often root for teams, even as personnel changes. But it’s different when you know the players personally. So, of course DeRozan is rooting for Lowry and many others he connected with in Toronto. Those relationships matter more than grudges.
It’s safe to say the Raptors made the Finals only because they traded Leonard for DeRozan. DeRozan is a good player who frequently faltered in the playoffs. Leonard is a superstar who elevates his game in the postseason. The swap has made all the difference.
But DeRozan is right about his contributions. His sustained quality of play over years helped Toronto reach the point an all-in trade for Leonard, who’ll become an unrestricted free agent this summer, made sense. With DeRozan raising their floor, the Raptors assembled a strong supporting cast primed for an upgrade to Leonard, who raises the ceiling.
Simply put, one of the very best things DeRozan did for the Raptors was getting good enough to be traded for Leonard. That’s a thankless contribution, but also one that shouldn’t be ignored.