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DeMar DeRozan found himself in the news yesterday when Grantland’s Zach Lowe (the best basketball writer right now, bar none) predicted that the Raptors will shop (and possibly trade) DeMar DeRozan this season. While it’s important to note that Lowe is making a prediction here and not reporting a rumour, it’s also important to remember that DeRozan (and really anybody not named Valanciunas) being shopped wouldn’t be and shouldn’t be a surprise to fans this year.

Where the talk of tanking dominated discussion among Raptors fans when Masai Ujiri first took over earlier this year, the chase for the Eastern Conference’s low playoff seeds is all the rage now, and while I firmly believe this roster is capable of landing in the 6-8 range, we shouldn’t forget that the whole point of this season for Ujiri and the Raptors is figuring out what they have right now, but more importantly what they have to do to reach a championship destination in the future.

So while DeRozan has looked like a much improved player through six pre-season games and Rudy Gay has looked like a more efficient scorer, the fact still remains that it’s tough to see a basketball executive with Ujiri’s diligence stomaching a roughly $28 million bill for the services of that wing combination.

And if an opportunity arises this season, whether a week from now, a month from now, or four months from now at the trade deadline, for Ujiri to unload one of those players for legitimate assets (not just a tank-a-thon), you best believe he’s going to pull the trigger. Remember, Masai has proclaimed that he’s not just going to give talent away in an effort to tank, and that’s absolutely the right approach to take, but at the same time, if the right package comes along that sets the franchise along a better path, I also don’t think he’ll let the standings dissuade him from such a deal.

All of which is to say, just because the team isn’t tanking, it doesn’t mean they’ll ignore good future-minded deals all in an effort to snag a playoff spot.

For what it’s worth, Fox Sports’ Sam Amico wrote on Monday that a General Manager said there is “strong league-wide interest in” DeRozan, ”but seemingly nothing that would entice DeRozan’s current employer to take the plunge.

***

Another point I wanted to touch on quickly revolves around Vince Carter.

On Tuesday, Steve Nash wrote an awesome piece for ESPN.com about the rise of Canadian basketball, and he went out of his way to mention the impact that Vince Carter and the phenomenon of ‘Vinsanity’ had on said rise:

For six and a half years, much of Canada’s young talent watched and fell in love with a flamboyant, human highlight film named Vince Carter. He inspired them nightly while playing for the home team Raptors. I think Vince’s presence in our country shouldn’t be underestimated. His charisma was incredibly powerful in attracting a Canadian audience to the game of basketball for a memorable period of time.

In addition on Tuesday, some excerpts emerged from Richard Peddie’s memoir, in which he states that Vince Carter “a mama’s boy” whose mom “was a force,” and that “We tried the appeasement, sucking-up mode with him, with cars and his own security guard,” but that it “didn’t work out so well.”

From what I could see on twitter and fan forums, there seemed to be a divide among fans, some of whom backed the Nash theory that Carter should be praised for his impact on basketball in Canada, and others who brushed off any notion of Carter’s influence while agreeing with Peddie’s take on Vince.

My take is that both sides can be right and probably are right, and that one side being right in this case doesn’t exclude the other from being right. In fact it’s very possible and even very likely that Carter had a significant impact on growing the game of basketball north of the border and also acted immaturely while handling his departure from Toronto poorly.

It’s okay to acknowledge both of these truths, and yet when the topic of Carter comes up in Raptors circles, it seems too often fans firmly entrench themselves on one side – a side that says Vince was a Canadian sports hero who could do no wrong, or a side which claims his wrongs diminished any impact he had off of the court.

It’s not always that black and white, and in this case, it certainly isn’t.

Comments (18)

  1. Vince quit on the team and his career arc has been disappointing, considering there was once a legitimate Vince vs. Kobe debate, but honestly the biggest loss in that department has become his. He’s turned in an adequate NBA career instead of becoming an all-time great and NBA champion, which he was certainly capable of.

    As a Raptors fan, I don’t hold any ill-will at all anymore. Given the overall mediocrity of this franchise, he’s still easily the best thing that ever happened to the Toronto Raptors – by a wide margin.

    • A potentially hall of fame career arc is disappointing?

      The only problem is, most fans brush off mental flaws (issues related to dedication to the game and motivational issues) so players like him will always be criticized when their careers should just be accepted for what they were.

      It’s the same reason most of what Joseph wrote about Bargnani over the last couple of years was so frustrating to read as if Bargnani could just flip a switch and reach his hypothetical ceiling when there was obviously a mental hurdle there. Similar issues existed with Vince but he was still able to be a HOF level player so the disappointment with his career shouldn’t be so overstated when he had a pretty good one considering his flaws.

      • Absolutely Vince’s career arc was disappointing. A lot of guys would be happy to have Vince’s career (heck, he’s passed Larry Bird in scoring), but they weren’t being compared to Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant as youngsters. I don’t want to insult your intelligence here, but Michael and Kobe have combined for 11 championships, while Vince has made it past the second round….once – as a diminishing player in Orlando, and they got smacked around by the Celtics in the conference finals. Vince hasn’t even sniffed a Finals appearance, let alone a championship. For a player with his talent, who’s popularity in all-star voting is only surpassed by MJ and Dr.J, that’s absolutely disappointing. I’m surprised it’s even a discussion.

        I think it was while he was with the Nets that Vince was voted the biggest underachiever in the League in an NBA player poll. I can’t find a link, though.

  2. while I like DeRozan’s game and his work ethic, I just dont see him as a player that we should build around. Trade him while his value is high, aka this season.

    • I’m not understanding this sentiment amongst Raptor fans. Trade DeRozan for…what exactly? Another young athletic guard who will give you 20 a night on a somewhat reasonable contract? I just don’t know what people expect to gain from trading a guy – homegrown, btw – who gets better every season.

    • Yeah I understand the idea of buying low and selling high. The problem is I don’t think you will be able to get into the lottery this year. That is really the only reason to trade and if you aren’t getting significant returns then why trade. It messes up with chemistry and also it messes with the people who want to be here. Derozan wants to be here and wants to prove he deserves to be here and he is playing like he is hungry. I personally just don’t see it. Additionally, so far we have seen that his game has improved over last year and in a significant way. He is currently playing like the number one guy on this team.

      One last thing people keep talkign about giving JV the ball more. The guy gets 7 touches a game. He also goes to the FT line on top of that. People seem to forget though that he is only in his second year in the league you don’t want to force feed him he will be good but he is still raw… this isn’t summer league where they can just do it. JV will get his touches as he learns he just isn’t there yet. You also want to mix it up a bit and not be so predictable on offense that you’re just dumping it into the post every time.

  3. Does a citywide heel like Peddie ripping Vince make Vince a babyface?

    • I hate Richard Peddie. Good riddance.

      Nothing is worse than throwing former colleagues/employees/coaches/managers under the bus after leaving a situation. I have zero respect for anyone who does that. Deal with those issues face-to-face internally at the time. After that, it’s not anyone else’s business.

  4. Love him or hate him, VC made basketball cool in Canada. I grew up playing and watching the game with a passion because of him.. as did so many others my age (now mid-20s). While the fall out was hurtful for Raptors fans, it took me maybe 2 years before all ill will was gone. Vince is a legend in my books regardless of the way he left town and his mark will always be left on this franchise and city.

  5. It makes way more sense to trade Rudy Gay. Demar keeps getting better, and he’s almost half the cost. Gay would also net a better return. We gave up Jose and Davis for him last year…. I would take a starting point guard and young power forward with huge upside.

  6. Demar is a top 5 SG. Outside of Kobe, Harden, Dwayne Wade, Joe Johnson… who would you want instead? Klay Thompson? Defensive liability… Monta Ellis? not efficient / head case, JR Smith? streaky, Jamal Crawford? wrong side of 30.

    Why in the world would the raptors trade him??? He’s young, continues to improve, and on a great contract. Plus he’s a good guy with his head on his shoulders. Unless the raps are getting a top 3 first round draft pick… why would they trade him???

    • That’s a great point, and that was also the case last year. (being top 5) He looks a lot better this year and hasn’t hit his ceiling yet.

  7. Demar needs to stop saying “most definitely” when he’s being interviewed. I know he’s trying to sound intelligent, but saying it so much is having the opposite effect.

  8. I don’t think they’re building around DeRozan, but building with him, and why not? He improves, he’s motivated, plays with his team, he seems to enjoy playing for T.O., and he’s only 24/25 years old this season. With those attributes and skill set, why not keep him?

    Good point DB above of the trade situation.

  9. I agree cold-heartedly with most of the comments on here. Don’t trade DeMar! Why would you!? As I’ve stated numerous times on this site: he’s putting up equal to if not better then Rudy Gay numbers at a fraction of the cost. You’d be stupid to move a guy like that, especially considering (as a lot of you have already said), his numbers continue to rise… unless of course there’s a deal worth making. Currently, thatdoesn’t appear to be the case. In my humble and passionate opinion, Ujiri should move Gay & Lowry in a package deal for proven #1 PG. In the grand scheme of things, thats essentially what this team is missing and needing most. A pass-first, true point guard who is strong in the clutch (unlike Jose who embodied all the above except being clutch). As for VC, not even guna go there. Good riddance!

  10. I was about 10 or 11 when Vince and the Raps played the Sixers, and about 13 or 14 when he acted like a complete asshole and quit on the franchise. I agree with Joseph on this: both sides are right. The frustrating part with Vince will always be the heartbreak of not knowing “what could have been” for Raptors basketball, and the embarrassment when he left. But, at the same time, it’s debatable as to whether this team even exists (or at least averages more than 8,000/game) without those five or so years of him putting the franchise on the map.

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