2. DeMar DeRozan
DeMar DeRozan will have to take a pay cut so massive his inner ego will scream and flail and ultimately deflate like a hot air balloon, but if he wants a championship, it’ll be worth it.
The Spurs missed the playoffs for the first time since 1996-97 last season, and their chances next year don’t seem much higher. It’ll be a Herculean feat for Popovich’s side to even make it to the postseason since every team in the Western Conference got a little more competitive this offseason.
We can’t speak for DeRozan, but if we were him, a four-time All-Star with several more productive years, we’d want to play for a team that can, well, win. At this point, playing for San Antonio would be a bit like shooting hoops in a rec league. Sure, you’ll be the most skillful player on the court, but only because you’re a big fish in a little pond. Come join the other big fish.
Following the Spurs’ loss to the Grizzlies in the play-in tournament, DeRozan finished the season with 21.6 points and a career-high 6.9 assists per game. It was his eighth season straight averaging 20-plus points per game, and while his name isn’t as household as Durant’s or Harden’s, it at least belongs in the backyard.
With the Big Three’s continual proneness to injury, DeRozan’s pedigree and postseason experience have made him into the exact kind of player Brooklyn needs. One who performs, who posts up numbers when Harden complains or Irving calls in sick or KD’s back hurts too much. DeRozan’s fondest memory is probably his stint with the Toronto Raptors when he won 50 or more games in his last three seasons there. His worst memory is probably watching Kawhi Leonard lead the Raptors to the championship the year after he was traded.
Toronto axed him in favor of a bigger star, and San Antonio simply isn’t getting the most value out of him. DeRozan could finally find a home and a ring in Brooklyn, where James Harden will indubitably invite him over for dinner and talk postseason strategy for hours. At 30 years old, DeRozan still possesses the mid-range mastery to help win the Nets a championship. He’s got a massive chip on his shoulder. The Nets are fueled by revenge. They couldn’t be more perfect for each other.
DeRozan’s tried to win twice already, with two different teams. Third time’s the charm?