Adding Ross Means the End for DeRozan?
Raptors coach Dwane Casey knows that when he talks about the skills and limitations of first-round pick Terrence Ross, it sounds as if he could be talking about DeMar DeRozan.
“It’s funny,” Casey said. “With both guys, the biggest chink in the armor is the need to get stronger and being able to fight for space and create off the dribble. They’ll both need to be in that weight room.”
Casey will never say it directly, but the Raptors’ drafting of Ross was a clear signal that the organization is ready to move on from DeRozan next summer if he doesn’t develop, or if his price in restricted free agency climbs too high. The Raptors are on pace to have a decent chunk of cap room — something like $10 million — even after overpaying for Landry Fields. But they could have max-level room without DeRozan’s cap hold, and given that DeRozan is still just 22 with room to grow, he may be in line for one of those four-year, $28 million deals that can hamper a team’s flexibility. Smart organizations understand the value of replacing so-so veterans with nearly equivalent players on rookie deals. That was the driving force behind San Antonio’s surprising George Hill-for-Kawhi Leonard trade, though that deal was even sweeter from the Spurs’ perspective since Leonard filled a positional need.