Nathaniel S. Butler/Getty Images
The 2019-20 NBA regular season may be suspended until further notice due to the coronavirus pandemic, but rumors about player movement have only picked up steam.
Even before commissioner Adam Silver decided in favor of game stoppage, it had become common knowledge that San Antonio Spurs star DeMar Derozan was unhappy.
“I don’t have to sugarcoat anything,” Jabari Young of CNBC Sports Business told ESPN San Antonio. “DeMar DeRozan is not happy in San Antonio.”
DeRozan’s unhappiness notwithstanding, money is always a factor, too, when players are considering what’s best for their career moving forward. After all, procuring the right situation in professional sports is a game of chess, not checkers.
The four-time All Star signed a five-year, $139 million deal in 2016, so he’s in the final year of that deal.
He has a player option for $27.7 million next season, so he can either opt in and give it another go in San Antonio and maybe hope for a trade or opt out and explore his value on the market as an unrestricted free agent.
But with the threat of a lower salary cap, he would be taking a big risk.
According to B/R’s Ric Bucher, “a drop of $10 million to $15 million is not outside the realm of possibility,” meaning that teams that otherwise would have had the salary-cap space to pursue DeRozan in free agency may suddenly not have enough room.
Whether the 30-year-old wants to test the market or not, though, he may be forced into it.
Chris Haynes, NBA Insider for Yahoo Sports, reported on the TNT broadcast that if DeRozan can’t come to an extension agreement with the Spurs, then he intends to decline his player option and test the waters this summer.
That may work in his favor, though, as Haynes also reported that other teams such as the New York Knicks would be interested in him if he hits the market.
In addition to the Knicks, the Atlanta Hawks, Charlotte Hornets, Detroit Pistons and Miami Heat are projected to have cap space this summer.
If DeRozan did go to the Eastern Conference, he might be able to reclaim his status as an All Star-caliber player.
“The offense is not running as smoothly as one would think with a guy like him in the lineup,” Young said. “So you have to decide if you want to take that money and if you want to come back to a situation that’s just not suitable. I mean, it didn’t work.
“They’re not winning, they don’t look like they enjoy playing with each other, the roster just doesn’t fit.”
Through 61 games this season, DeRozan is averaging 22.2 points, 5.6 rebounds and 5.6 assists. He’s also been a beacon of efficiency, shooting a career-high 52.6 percent from the field.