The San Antonio Spurs are in an odd place we haven’t seen in the Gregg Popovich era. At 20-26 entering Wednesday, San Antonio is outside of the playoff picture by 2.5 games, trailing the Memphis Grizzlies for the No. 8 seed. So rumors have been swirling that both DeMar DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge are on the block and could be dealt before the NBA Trade Deadline on Feb. 6 at 3:00 p.m. ET. With that, here we’ll take a look at the top 3 landing spots for DeRozan if he’s traded.
The Miami Heat are one of the surprise teams this season, No. 3 in the East at 32-15. With Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo, plus a ton of depth at guard, Miami has a legit shot to make some noise in the playoffs. The Heat also could just be food for the Milwaukee Bucks in the second of third round. With that, a deal for a third wheel to Butler and Bam makes sense.
Trying to find a deal that works is a bit tricky, but there are options. Justise Winslow is making $13 million a season the next three years. The Heat can offer up draft picks and potentially Kendrick Nunn, who has been one of the best rookies this season. It wouldn’t be ideal, but the Spurs could take back Dion Waiters’ contract to make the salary work. Getting Nunn and a first-rounder seems like a win for the Spurs. Winslow is a decent rotation player when healthy. Maybe Goran Dragic’s expiring contract is involved, but then the Heat wouldn’t really have a true PG on the roster.
The other Florida team has also been rumored to be going after DeRozan. The Magic have had a down season by most accounts but are holding the No. 7 seed in the East. At 21-27, Orlando could use a boost, even though the Magic realistically aren’t getting higher than this seeding. Still, the Magic have a decent core and could use another wing with Jonathan Isaac currently out. Once Isaac comes back, adding a player like DeRozan to a lineup with Nikola Vucevic, Aaron Gordon, Markelle Fultz, Evan Fournier and Mo Bamba would be interesting.
The issue is finding a trade that works salary-wise. The package would have to include a few first-round picks, I’d imagine, since the Magic don’t have any attractive expiring contracts. DJ Augustin shouldn’t be moved since the Magic don’t have much PG depth. Unfortunately, Augustin would have to go to make salaries work. Orlando likely wouldn’t want to part with Mo Bamba, but that could be the only way to get DeRozan. The Magic have a ton of draft picks, so that should hold the Spurs’ attention.
The Knicks seem like a team that would buy at the deadline when they should clearly sell. Well, selling assets to acquire a player like DeRozan makes sense if you’re the Knicks and you think you can land a free agent in the offseason. Adding DeRozan now gives New York an upper hand on negotiations for an extension — DeMar has a player option for next season, which he could opt out of. It’s a risky move with that in mind, but the Knicks have the payroll to give DeRozan the max and can try and lure another superstar to play alongside him.
If the Spurs are smart, which they are, they’ll ask for the Knicks’ 2020 first-round pick in the deal. Chances are this pick could turn into a top 5 or even the No. 1 overall player selected. It’s not an incredible draft; there doesn’t seem to be a generational talent, but some solid players nonetheless. This could make it easier to part with the pick if it means adding a legit All-Star caliber swingman in DeRozan. Between DeRozan, Julius Randle, RJ Barrett and another free agent, the Knicks would have a decent roster heading into 2020-21.