Not many NBA stars stay loyal to the team that drafted them. DeMar DeRozan, though, did exactly that with the Toronto Raptors. He played there for nine seasons and had a lot of success, but when Toronto saw an opportunity to win a championship with Kawhi Leonard, the front office shipped DeRozan off to the San Antonio Spurs.
So, how did DeRozan feel once he learned of his trade to San Antonio? He recently revealed what happened during the moment he found out.
The Raptors traded DeMar DeRozan to the Spurs
The Raptors selected DeRozan with the No. 9 overall pick in the 2009 NBA Draft. He and Toronto missed the playoffs in their first four seasons together, but he eventually became an All-Star and led them to the postseason in 2013-14.
It was the first of five consecutive playoff trips for DeRozan and the Raptors. He even led them to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2016, where they were just two wins away from beating the Cleveland Cavaliers to reach the Finals.
However, after losing to the Cavs in the conference semifinals each of the next two years, the Raptors chose to trade DeRozan in July 2018. They sent him, Jakob Poeltl, and a first-round draft pick to the San Antonio Spurs for Kawhi Leonard, Danny Green, and cash.
DeRozan left the franchise as its leader in points (13,296), games (675), field goals (4,716), and multiple other categories.
He has since continued playing well for the Spurs, as he averaged over 21.0 points in each of the last three seasons. The Raptors, though, won an NBA championship in their first and only season with Leonard, something they unfortunately couldn’t accomplish with DeRozan.
DeMar DeRozan was shocked when the Raptors traded him
DeMar DeRozan recently appeared on Shannon Sharpe’s Club Shay Shay, and he recalled the moment when he learned that the Raptors had traded him to the Spurs.
Luckily for him, he actually received a heads up the night before the news came out. But it didn’t make things any easier.
“I was watching The Equalizer 2 at the movies, and I had just left, and I was going to get something to eat,” DeRozan said on the July 26 episode. “I had made the phone call back, and that’s when I got the word. I remember I was in the car, and I just told the dude, ‘pull the car over.’ And I just got out and walked down the street. I think I sat in front of a Del Taco or a Jack in the Box or something for like 40 minutes.”
Given that most superstars had left Toronto in the past and DeRozan wanted to stay, the news certainly shocked the four-time All-Star.
“I just couldn’t believe it,” he said. “Two days prior, we had had a conversation about running this whole thing back. So, that’s what made it more surprising, how it came about and everything. … Obviously, anybody know in Toronto, I was willing to lay it all out on the line. And for it to happen like that, it definitely sucked. Because emotionally, I was invested, not knowing the other side of stuff.”
Later during the interview, DeRozan also added that he actually hung up on Raptors president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri once he received the news.
“It was the last thing I expected. So, when it hit, it was like that lost feeling. It was just like, ‘Alright, what now?’” he said.
He no longer has hard feelings toward the Raptors
It took time, but DeRozan — who is currently a free agent — said he is now at peace with everything.
“I don’t have no problem; you understand that it’s part of the game, it’s part of the business,” he said. “Nobody’s exempt from that happening, so I got past it. … It took a while, but it got to a point to where you gotta respect it.”
DeRozan had a special career with the Raptors, but as he said, no one is exempt from the business of basketball. The move ultimately worked out for Toronto as the franchise won a championship. So, hopefully — pending his next destination — DeRozan can now win a title of his own.
It certainly wouldn’t mean as much, though, as the one he could have won with his squad in Toronto.
Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference