DeMar DeRozan Talks Toronto, L.A., Free Agency

Heading into free agency this past summer, DeMar DeRozan seemed likely to re-up with the Raptors, but there were several teams lurking as probable suitors for the All-Star shooting guard. As Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated writes, those teams included the Heat, Clippers, and Lakers.

DeRozan is a Los Angeles native, and the idea of returning to Southern California to play for one of his hometown teams certainly had some appeal to him. However, the 27-year-old quickly reached a new agreement with Toronto instead, declining to take meetings with any other team. DeRozan spoke to Spears about that decision and a few other topics, so let’s round up some of his more interesting quotes from the piece…

On whether it was hard to pass up the opportunity to play for an L.A. team:

“Yeah, of course. At the end of the day, the Lakers are the Lakers. I grew up a Lakers fan. Kobe [Bryant] was my favorite player growing up. I didn’t miss a game as a kid. Just to have the opportunity was amazing. I watched one of my favorite players create a legacy of his own and leave his mark there. He left his own mark there. It will always be there. I want to leave my own mark in Toronto.”

On why he chose not to meet with any teams besides Toronto in free agency:

“If I knew where I wanted to be from the beginning … I didn’t want to waste anybody’s time and just hear somebody else talk or say something when I know in the back of my mind that I want to do something else. As long as that something else was mutual, there was no point of me doing anything else. … I don’t want to waste anybody’s time. I didn’t want to give false hope if I knew what I felt inside was right. And that was me going back [to the Raptors].”

On what it meant that the Raptors pushed hard to re-sign him to a long-term deal:

“It meant a lot. It was a mutual feeling. It made everything else easier. Nobody had a doubt, from the organization to the fans. Everything we created was going to be there and still was going to be the same. That’s amazing when everybody is on the same page.”

On whether he wants to become the greatest player in Raptors history:

“Without a doubt. No question. How many people get to say they hold one record for an organization, or were on the winningest team in Raptors history, or did this with one organization? All of those things last longer than your playing career. It took time for me to get out of the second round [of the playoffs] in Raptors history. And we did that [in 2016], and that’s something that is going to be there. … If we don’t do it and someone else wins a championship, they are still going to revert back to the 2015/16 team as the best team until then. Ten, 15, 20 years from now, whatever it might be, those things last longer. It’s something you put your all into.”

Be sure to check out Spears’ full piece for more thoughts from DeRozan on living in Canada, growing up in Compton, playing for Team USA in the Olympics, and watching the U.S. election results.

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