DeMar DeRozan

DeMar DeRozan To Exercise 2020/21 Player Option

Spurs wing DeMar DeRozan will exercise his player option for 2020/21, putting off free agency for another year, reports Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link). The move will guarantee DeRozan’s $27,739,975 salary.

DeRozan, 31, had a strong season for San Antonio in 2019/20, averaging 22.1 PPG, 5.6 APG, and 5.5 RPG with an impressive .531 FG% in 68 games (34.1 MPG).

Back in March, before the season went on hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic, one report suggested that DeRozan would likely opt out if he didn’t receive an extension from the Spurs, while a separate report indicated the veteran scorer wasn’t thrilled with his situation in San Antonio.

The financial impact of the pandemic made DeRozan’s decision to opt in a fairly simple one, however. Only two or three teams will have the cap room necessary to have matched his option salary, and those teams finished in the lottery and may not have made DeRozan a top priority. He’ll be better off trying his luck on the open market in 2021, when more clubs will have cap flexibility.

Of course, just because DeRozan is under contract for one more year, that doesn’t mean he’ll spend the entire season with the Spurs. San Antonio is believed to be shopping some of its veterans, including DeRozan, who reportedly drew interest from the Lakers before they agreed to acquire Dennis Schröder. We’ll see if any other suitors pop up in the coming days for the former Raptor.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Los Angeles Notes: Bradley, Mannion, DeRozan, Westbrook

Avery Bradley, who has a decision to make on his player option, is changing reps and plans to sign with Charles Briscoe, Shams Charania of The Athletic tweets. The Lakers guard, who chose not to play during the restart, can become an unrestricted free agent if he declines the $5MM in the final year of his contract. Bradley averaged 8.6 PPG last season and started 44 of 49 games before play was halted in March. He turns 30 later this month.

We have more on the Los Angeles teams:

  • The Lakers, who hold the No. 28 pick in Wednesday’s draft, worked out University of Arizona point man Nico Mannion on Tuesday in Arizona, Brad Turner of The Los Angeles Times tweets. GM Rob Pelinka was among the Lakers’ reps who attended the workout. Mannion, who averaged 14.0 PPG and 5.3 APG as a freshman last season, is currently ranked No. 25 on ESPN’s Best Available list.
  • The Lakers are reportedly interested in Spurs swingman DeMar DeRozan despite his $27.7MM cap hit and Jordan Greer of Sporting News believes he would be a good fit. DeRozan’s ability as a playmaker would give the Lakers another proven scorer when LeBron James and Anthony Davis aren’t sharing the court. DeRozan’s defensive shortcomings could be masked by a combination of the coaching staff’s schemes and Anthony Davis‘ shot-blocking, Greer adds.
  • Russell Westbrook would give the Clippers a third star but they shouldn’t pursue a deal for the disgruntled Rockets guard, Jovan Buha of The Athletic opines. Westbrook is a ball-dominant guard whose efficiency has waned in recent seasons, Buha notes. He’s not an off-the-ball threat, as he made just 25.8% of his 3-point attempts last season, allowing defenders to sag off him. Trading for his contract would also force the Clippers to gut their roster to match salaries, Buha said.

Spurs Shopping Mills, Aldridge, DeRozan?

As we detailed on Wednesday, there has been increasing chatter as of late about the possibility that the Spurs will have an active offseason. Addressing that possibility within his latest mock draft, Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer reports that San Antonio is shopping point guard Patty Mills and is also “looking to unload” veterans LaMarcus Aldridge and DeMar DeRozan.

All three players are entering contract years in 2020/21, with Mills set to earn $13.3MM, Aldridge to make $24MM, and DeRozan on the books for $27.7MM.

According to O’Connor, the Bucks and Sixers are among the teams that have expressed interest in Mills. If the Spurs were to make a deal with Philadelphia, Josh Richardson would likely head to San Antonio in the swap, O’Connor notes.

As for Aldridge and DeRozan, O’Connor confirms that there is buzz – first reported by ESPN’s Zach Lowe – about the possibility of the Warriors pursuing Aldridge in a deal that would involve the No. 2 pick in the draft. It’s not clear exactly what such a trade would look like, but Andrew Wiggins would presumably have to be included for salary-matching purposes.

Meanwhile, O’Connor has also heard that the Lakers have some interest in acquiring DeRozan, suggesting that Danny Green and Kyle Kuzma would be part of a hypothetical deal. In order to match DeRozan’s $27.7MM cap hit, the Lakers would have to add a few million more dollars to that package.

The Spurs typically don’t make major splashes on the trade market unless their hand is forced, as in the case of 2018’s Kawhi Leonard blockbuster. However, with virtually all of their veteran players – including Rudy Gay – expected to be on expiring contracts next season, the team could have some interesting options available as it looks to pivot to building around its younger generation of players.

Hawks Rumors: Holiday, No. 6 Pick, Haliburton, Okongwu

Following up on Wednesday’s report linking the Hawks to Jrue Holiday, Chris Kirschner of The Athletic explains in further detail why he’s hearing that Atlanta currently isn’t a probable landing spot for the Pelicans guard.

According to Kirschner, there’s a belief that if Atlanta pursued Holiday, it would take the No. 6 overall pick and two young players. The Hawks aren’t interested in giving up that substantial a package for a 30-year-old on an expiring contract, even if Holiday would be a great fit next to Trae Young in the backcourt.

The Hawks could still be involved in a three-team deal where Holiday goes to another team, and could even emerge as a viable landing spot for Holiday if the Pelicans’ asking price drops, says Kirschner. However, a trade that sees the club giving up two young players isn’t being considered.

Here’s more on the Hawks from Kirschner:

  • Kirschner also addressed trade rumors related to the No. 6 pick, writing that if the draft were today, Atlanta would be prepared to make that selection rather than moving it. He also clarifies that the rumored Timberwolves proposal for the No. 6 pick – which includes the No. 17 pick and Jarrett Culver – is an offer Minnesota has put on the table for multiple teams.
  • Deni Avdija, Tyrese Haliburton, and Onyeka Okongwu look like the Hawks’ most likely targets if the club remains at No. 6, though Avdija may be off the board by then, Kirschner writes. If Haliburton and Okongwu are available, Kirschner thinks Atlanta would probably lean toward the former Iowa State guard.
  • Kirschner wonders if the Spurs, who own the No. 11 pick, might be a potential trade partner for Atlanta. Kirschner believes the Hawks would be interested in moving down if they could acquire a young player like Derrick White or Dejounte Murray, though I’m skeptical San Antonio would give up either player to move up five spots. Because Atlanta would prefer a young player whose timeline matches up with the current core, veterans like LaMarcus Aldridge and DeMar DeRozan are probably unlikely targets, Kirschner adds.

Spurs Rumors: Popovich, Roster, Aldridge, DeRozan

As rumors continue to swirl about the possibility that the Nets will make a run at longtime San Antonio head coach Gregg Popovich, Spurs CEO R.C. Buford said that his team is operating under the assumption that Popovich will be returning for the 2020/21 season, writes Jabari Young of CNBC.com.

“I don’t know if he’s told (Spurs general manager) Brian (Wright) any differently,” Buford said. “Pop’s shown nothing other than how we’re going to build our team for next year.”

Popovich is easily the NBA’s current longest-tenured head coach and seems likely to return to the Spurs for at least one more year. However, he’s also the league’s oldest coach at age 71, so the club can’t count on him to remain in his current role indefinitely. Still, Buford is confident that Popovich’s influence will linger even after he eventually leaves the franchise.

“Pop’s vision will be in play long after his presence,” Buford said, per Young. “That doesn’t mean it’ll be him in there making those decisions, but we’ve all learned together, and you’re not going to step away from a values-based, team-building aspect that focuses on culture and coming to work every day and working on it.”

Here’s more from Young on the Spurs:

  • Asked about the Spurs’ roster direction, Wright expressed that he likes the team’s mix of veterans and younger players, while Buford said San Antonio will continue to address its roster “optimistically and opportunistically,” according to Young. “I think having the ability to develop young talent and flexibility to be opportunistic is going to be what we’re going to continue to do,” Buford said.
  • According to Young, the Spurs were rumored to be shopping LaMarcus Aldridge near this season’s trade deadline, but rival executives believe the club’s asking price was too high. “(The Spurs) overplayed their hand thinking they were supposed to get some giant package for him,” one NBA executive told CNBC.
  • Within Young’s article on the Spurs, he observes that DeMar DeRozan will likely decide to pick up his 2020/21 player option. While that sounds more like informed speculation than a firm report, it’s still worth noting, since Young suggested during the winter that DeRozan may be unhappy in San Antonio and another report around the same time indicated he’d likely opt out if he’s not extended. That was before the coronavirus pandemic changed the NBA landscape, however.

Western Notes: Collins, Dort, DeRozan, James

The Trail Blazers will be down a starter for Game 1 of their first-round series against the top-seeded Lakers on Tuesday. Power forward Zach Collins will sit out due to left ankle inflammation, Marc J. Spears of ESPN tweets. Wenyen Gabriel will start in Collins’ place.

Collins, who missed most of the season after undergoing left shoulder surgery, appeared in all eight of the seeding games for the Trail Blazers. He averaged 6.3 PPG and 7.1 RPG in those outings.

We have more from around the Western Conference:

  • Thunder wing Luguentz Dort is unlikely to play in their opener against Houston on Tuesday due to a knee sprain, Royce Young of ESPN tweets. However, head coach Billy Donovan said Dort is progressing well, which suggests the rookie will play in the series. Dort was injured against Miami on Wednesday. He could be a key defensive factor against the small-ball Rockets.
  • DeMar DeRozan and the Spurs have some tough decisions to make regarding his future, as Bobby Marks of ESPN notes. DeRozan must decide by October 13 whether to exercise his $27.7MM option for next season. That won’t necessarily mean DeRozan will remain with the club. He could get traded, whether or not he opts it. The club could also work out an extension with DeRozan or decide during next season whether to extend or trade him if he opts in.
  • Lakers superstar LeBron James believes this will be his most difficult playoff run, according to ESPN’s Dave McMenamin. James sees a number of challenges due to the coronavirus pandemic and the league being forced to play in a neutral venue. “As far as me locking in on an opponent and individuals, that hasn’t changed. What’s different is this is the environment, not home,” he said. “Not with my family, not in my own bed, I’m not in our own practice facility. I’m not preparing to be at Staples [Center] tomorrow with our fans. I’m not with a lot of things that’s essential to my everyday regimen.”

Western Notes: DeRozan, Payne, Booker, J.R. Smith

After the Spurs‘ victory on Tuesday night over the Rockets, veteran guard DeMar DeRozan was asked about his future with the organization. The 31-year-old guard has a $27.7MM player option for the 2020/21 season.

The former first-round pick did not go into much detail about his future with the Spurs and instead focused on the current task at hand.

“My mindset is always, I am here, I am living in the moment and continue to build with these (young) guys,” he said (h/t Tom Osborn of the San-Antonio Express-News). “I am just trying to go out there and get us to a playoff spot.”

Back in March, one report suggested that the 31-year-old guard was not happy about his situation with the Spurs. However, his $27.7MM option will be tough to pass up in what may be a limited free agent market.

Here’s more from around the Western Conference:

  • Bryan Kalbrosky of HoopsHype examined how recently-signed combo guard Cameron Payne has helped the undefeated Suns in the bubble. In the seeding games, Payne is averaging 10.8 PPG, 4.0 RPG, and 3.2 APG. He is also shooting an astonishing 50 percent from three-point range. Kalbrosky points out that Payne’s ability to create his own shot as of the reasons for his success on the court.
  • All-Star guard Devin Booker has the Suns on the cusp of making the playoffs for the first time since 2010, writes Duane Rankin of the Arizona Republic. Booker understands the magnitude of Thursday’s game and is looking forward to the challenge. “I know it’s a different format than what it’d be usually, but we can feel the energy,” he said. “We can feel the hype of the game. I’m looking forward to it.” For the Suns to get into the play-in game, they need to beat the Mavs and hope that either Memphis or Portland loses.
  • Lakers guard J.R. Smith spoke at length about his road back to the NBA with Kyle Goon of the Southern California NewsGroup. The 34-year-old sharpshooter discussed the role his father, Earl Smith Jr. played in getting him back to the league. “If you ain’t gonna play, now you gotta find something to do,” Earl said he told J.R. “I thought, ‘Get your ass in shape, go to L.A. Do your thing.” Smith has not played often in the team’s seeding games in Orlando but could be a key player in the postseason.

DeRozan Isn’t Dwelling On Potential Free Agency

DeMar DeRozan could be one of the top unrestricted free agents on the market this offseason if he opts out of the final year of his contract. The veteran Spurs shooting guard didn’t tip his hand on Monday during a video press conference, saying he hasn’t been thinking about his situation, Tom Orsborn of the San Antonio Express News reports.

DeRozan would have to leave approximately $27.7MM on the table to opt out. A report surfaced during the week play was halted in March that DeRozan intended to opt out unless he was able to reach an extension agreement.

DeRozan said from the Orlando campus that he’s only focused on the league restart.

“I haven’t thought about it,” DeRozan said. “With everything that’s going on, it’s hard to even know what tomorrow is going to bring, honestly. So, you’ve got to worry about the moment that you are in. I told myself that throughout this whole process, through everything, I am going to take it day by day.”

Due to the financial issues created by the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s fair to assume that DeRozan might more inclined to stay put. Only a handful of teams will have significant salary cap space and most of those teams are in rebuilding mode.

DeRozan, who turns 31 next month, is averaging 22.2 PPG, 5.6 RPG and 5.6 APG. He’s also shooting a career-high 52.6% from the field, though his impact beyond the arc is minimal — he’s only attempted 30 3-pointers, making eight of them.

He signed a five-year, $139MM contract with Toronto in 2016 before being traded to San Antonio in 2018.

The Spurs enter the seeding round four games behind Memphis, which currently holds the final Western Conference playoff spot. San Antonio won’t have its other star, LaMarcus Aldridge (shoulder), in action in Orlando. Trey Lyles (appendectomy) is also out for the remainder of the season.

Batum, DeRozan Among Players With Earlier Option Decision Deadlines

Most veterans who have player options in their contracts for the 2020/21 season will have an October 17 deadline to either exercise or decline that option. That Saturday represents the second-last day of the 2019/20 league year under the NBA’s new calendar, meaning it would coincide in a normal year with June 29, the usual player option decision deadline.

However, according to ESPN’s Bobby Marks, some of the players who have to make option decisions for 2020/21 have slightly earlier deadlines. For instance, if the Spurs don’t make the postseason, DeMar DeRozan will be required to make his decision within seven days of the team’s last game, per Marks.

The full list of player options for ’20/21 can be found on our free agents page, but here are the options which must be exercised or declined before October 17, according to Marks:

The rest of this season’s player option decisions must be made by October 17, a deadline that applies to nearly every team option for 2020/21 as well. The only team options with earlier decision dates are minimum-salary ones for Deonte Burton (Thunder) and Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk (Pistons), which are due by October 15, per Marks.

New Dates Set For Option Decisions, Salary Guarantees, More

As part of the revised Collective Bargaining Agreement terms that the NBA and NBPA have agreed to, a series of option decision deadlines, salary guarantee dates, and other offseason dates and deadlines have been pushed back.

We don’t yet have a full list that outlines how every date and deadline will be adjusted, but in cases where a deadline fell slightly before or after the start of the 2020/21 league year, those dates have been pushed back to coincide with the new start date for the league year, which will begin on October 19 rather than July 1.

For instance, as Shams Charania of The Athletic tweets, player option decisions for Gordon Hayward (Celtics), DeMar DeRozan (Spurs), Mike Conley (Jazz), and Andre Drummond (Cavaliers) will now be due on October 17 instead of June 29. Lakers big man Anthony Davis will have to decide on his 2020/21 player option by October 14, one day after a potential NBA Finals Game 7, Charania adds.

[RELATED: Re-Examining NBA Player Options For 2020/21]

Meanwhile, the salary guarantee date for four Knicks veterans – Reggie Bullock, Taj Gibson, Wayne Ellington, and Elfrid Payton – who currently have $1MM partial guarantees for 2020/21 will be October 17 at 3:00pm eastern time, rather than on June 28, tweets ESPN’s Bobby Marks.

Additionally, as Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press (Twitter link) reported over the weekend, traded player exceptions that were set to expire in early July will have their expiry dates moved to corresponding dates in October. For example, since the free agency moratorium will now expire on October 23 instead of July 6, the Warriors‘ $17.2MM TPE that would have expired on July 7 will instead do so on October 24.

[RELATED: Outstanding NBA Trade Exceptions]

There are other deadlines that figure to be closely tied to the new league year as well. For instance, the deadline to tender a qualifying offer to a potential restricted free agent will likely be on October 17 rather than June 29.

Some date adjustments may be trickier to determine and will require further clarification. For instance, some players had been scheduled to receive full or partial guarantees if they remained under contract through August 1. That date may simply be shifted to November 19, one month after the ’20/21 league year begins. But the NBA has proposed opening training camps for next season on November 10, complicating that timeline.