It’s no secret that former Raptors President Bryan Colangelo pushed along DeMar DeRozan’s development starting in his rookie season, however, current President and General Manager, Basketball Operations Masai Ujiri has no such allegiance to the young shooting guard. According to Marc Stein, ESPN.com, Toronto is offering either Andrea Bargnani or DeMar DeRozan in an attempt to pry point guard Eric Bledsoe from the Los Angeles Clippers.
“Bargnani in any deal for Bledsoe, which wouldn’t necessarily dissuade the Clippers, given their longstanding need for a big man who can stretch the floor. But sources added that Toronto guard DeMar DeRozan is the Raptor most likely to tempt the Clippers…Some rival executives believe the Raptors are prepared to part with DeRozan.”
Bargnani has been shopped by the Raptors going back to an unexpected shooting slump early last year when Colangelo ventured that the big man might benefit from a change of scenery. If Bargnani had not suffered elbow injuries during the season, it is likely he would have been gone by the trade deadline. Apparently the desire to move Bargnani along hasn’t diminished under Ujiri.
Where Bledsoe has been the Clipper in the news and actively pursued by several teams in recent months, the inclusion of DeRozan in trade talks and the Clippers need to acquire a floor spreading big man suggests this deal could be expanded to better meet the goals of both teams.
Raptors Head Coach Dwane Casey has made an overt plea for better defense and toughness on his roster and the Clippers have players they are not fully utilizing that should catch his interest.
Caron Butler is 33 years old and has an injury history, including a sore right knee at the end of last season, but Butler has the veteran presence and toughness Casey wants. Butler played in 78 regular season games last year and averaged 24.1 minutes per game. His contributions are not worth his $8 million expiring contract, but if the Clippers like DeRozan, the Raptors should be happy to take Butler to get Bledsoe.
Another highly paid Clipper that averaged just 24.5 minutes per game last season is DeAndre Jordan. He might be popular with the fan base, but paying someone nearly $11 million that you can’t keep on the floor in crunch time is a luxury the Clippers are hard pressed to afford. Jordan is another player that would fit the mold of what Casey is trying to build. Bargnani’s contract is nearly identical to Jordan’s. This looks like it could be a case of each team having what the other team would like to have.
Ujiri has been given carte blanche by MLSE President and CEO Tim Leiweke to do whatever it takes to complete their agreed upon vision to build a championship contender. That DeRozan’s name has hit the rumor mill already should not come as much of a surprise.
Stephen Brotherston has covered the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Center since 2009. A member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association, Stephen is the editor and publisher of Pro Bball Report.