Potential Trade Packages and Landing Spots for DeMar DeRozan, Kyle Lowry
The 2018 NBA offseason could see some major shakeups throughout the league. There are big names on the free-agent market (LeBron James, Paul George, DeMarcus Cousins, DeAndre Jordan), the looming Kawhi Leonard situation in San Antonio and possible trades involving oft-rumored names like C.J. McCollum.
One of the toughest teams to get a read on is the Toronto Raptors, who secured the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference behind an All-Star backcourt of Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan and a slew of impressive young talent. But they are in transition after being swept in the playoffs by the Cleveland Cavaliers for the second year in a row and firing head coach Dwane Casey.
There's speculation that team president Masai Ujiri could finally be ready to make sweeping changes. On Tuesday night, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported that no one on Toronto's roster is considered untouchable in trade talks. This means that even Lowry and DeRozan could be moved in the right deal.
Trading either of the star guards could be tricky. Both are owed big money. Lowry is set to make $64.3 million over the next two seasons, while DeRozan is on the books for $83.2 million over the next three. Both are likely too expensive to fetch the kind of return in picks and prospects that could kick-start a from-the-bottom rebuild. Any deal involving either one would be more of a retooling, in which Ujiri would simply move pieces around and try to remain competitive in the Eastern Conference playoff picture.
With that said, there are a few teams that make sense as destinations for the Toronto guards.
New York Knicks
New York Knicks get: DeMar DeRozan
Toronto Raptors get: Joakim Noah, Ron Baker, Frank Ntilikina
New York almost traded for Lowry during the 2013-14 season, before Knicks owner James Dolan got cold feet at the last minute, according to Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today. Five years later, the Knicks are trying to pull themselves out of a rebuild and could be chasing big names again. DeRozan is coming off a career year, and at 28 years old, he is much closer to his prime than the 32-year-old Lowry, putting him more in line with Kristaps Porzingis' development timeline.
The Noah and Baker contracts could be bought out or stretched. New York would love to clear Noah's money in particular, as he's owed $37.8 million over the next two seasons.
Doing so, and returning a player as good as DeRozan, would likely cost them the best young piece on their roster outside of Porzingis. Ntilikina showed tremendous defensive potential in his rookie season, but he isn't a true point guard, so he would be somewhat redundant next to DeRozan. He and Lowry would form a formidable defensive backcourt, and he's versatile enough that he'd be able to adapt to a different role later on if the Raptors eventually move Lowry.
For Toronto, the opportunity to get younger and cheaper in the backcourt paired with Ntilikina's upside makes this a worthwhile move to consider.
San Antonio Spurs
San Antonio Spurs get: Kyle Lowry
Toronto Raptors get: Pau Gasol, Patty Mills, Dejounte Murray
Everything the Spurs do this summer hinges on how the Leonard situation gets resolved. The two-time Defensive Player of the Year missed all but nine games of the 2017-18 season amid tensions with the organization over the rehab timeline for a quad injury suffered in last year's playoffs. If he and Gregg Popovich are not able to repair their relationship, San Antonio could start fielding trade offers, and it probably wouldn't look for a player as expensive as Lowry or DeRozan.
However, the Spurs are an interesting Lowry trade destination if Leonard is on board. Tony Parker has already transitioned into a bench role, and his playing future is as yet undetermined. Lowry gives them an All-Star-caliber replacement with only two seasons left on his deal, whose age and experience are much more conducive to short-term contention alongside Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge than the 21-year-old Murray.
Between Murray and Mills, the Raptors get back plenty of production at point guard—one promising youngster and one dependable veteran. Gasol's contract is included to make salaries match. He's owed around $16 million in each of the next two seasons, but the second of those years is only $6.7 million guaranteed, providing considerable salary relief compared to paying Lowry through his deal.
Minnesota Timberwolves get: DeMar DeRozan
Toronto Raptors get: Andrew Wiggins
This is a straight-up swap that would act as something of a reset for two would-be contenders. Wiggins, who is about to begin a five-year, $146 million extension, hasn't been a perfect fit in Minnesota alongside Jimmy Butler and Karl-Anthony Towns. DeRozan's money is similar on a per-year basis, but for two fewer years, and his age aligns much more closely with that of Butler. Together, the two would make a formidable scoring duo on the perimeter.
For the Raptors, the bet would be that Wiggins, a Toronto-area native, still has untapped potential as a two-way star. He's five years younger than DeRozan and isn't as ball-dominant. Toronto's coaching staff has a strong track record of developing young players—Norman Powell, Pascal Siakam and Fred VanVleet—and it could do the same with Wiggins.
Miami Heat get: Kyle Lowry
Toronto Raptors get: Goran Dragic, Kelly Olynyk
This swap of similarly-aged All-Star point guards gives both teams a different look. Lowry's hard-nosed defensive mentality would fit well in the famous Heat culture built by Pat Riley and Erik Spoelstra, and Dragic would provide a more dynamic offensive style for the Raptors. Dragic has played alongside other high-scoring guards in his career (Eric Bledsoe, Dion Waiters, Dwyane Wade), so it wouldn't be much of an adjustment for him to slot in next to DeRozan in Toronto.
Olynyk's contract is included to make the money match up, but he's also a useful bench big man, and this would be a homecoming to his native Toronto. There are other contracts the Raptors could take back in place of Olynyk: Josh Richardson, James Johnson or Waiters would all get the salaries to match up pretty closely.
Charlotte Hornets get: DeMar DeRozan, Jonas Valanciunas
Toronto Raptors get: Nicolas Batum, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Malik Monk
The Hornets have arguably the worst salary-cap situation in the NBA, with numerous huge deals given to role players without much hope for contention. They need a shake-up in the worst way, and this offseason's changes on the bench (replacing longtime head coach Steve Clifford with former Spurs assistant James Borrego) and in the front office (replacing Rich Cho with former Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak) are signs they're ready to blow things up.
This trade would involve a lot of swapping of bad contracts on both sides, with Valanciunas' remaining two years and $34.2 million part of the trade-off for losing DeRozan. Batum and Kidd-Gilchrist are both talented wings with health concerns who are still young enough (29 and 24, respectively) to provide some value, especially on the defensive end.
Toronto would also get to take a flier on Monk, a talented scoring guard who didn't prove much in his rookie year in Charlotte but may just need a change of scenery.