The Toronto Raptors are quietly reaping the rewards of their rebuilding efforts this NBA season. At this point, the Kyle Lowry squad ranks second only to LeBron James' Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference. This places the DeMar DeRozan higher than the division's runner-up last season, Jimmy Butler's Chicago Bulls, and Al Horford's Atlanta Hawks. As the NBA trade deadline approaches, however, the Toronto Raptors are hounded by basketball teams interested in some of their stars.
One of the most widely speculated trading chip for the Toronto Raptors is DeRozan. The NBA All-Star has been reportedly attracting attention from teams like the Los Angeles Lakers, Phoenix Suns and Oklahoma City Thunder. In fact, the Kobe Bryant squad is said to be ready to offer a max contract to the 26-year-old shooting guard.
"That starts with DeRozan, a lock to decline his option and hit free agency this summer," said Zach Lowe of ESPN, referring to the flourishing roster of the Toronto Raptors. The sports analyst added, "A bunch of teams, including DeRozan's hometown Lakers, are prepared to offer him a max deal starting at $25 million per season, and the Raptors know they will have to spend big to keep him."
While not specifically singling out DeRozan, Mitch Kupchak also shared that the Los Angeles Lakers are eager to find new additions to their team. With the exit of the Black Mamba from the D'Angelo Russell squad, the group now has a substantial salary cap space. This can provide the Julius Randle team with more confidence regarding snatching notable free agents.
"There was a flurry of phone calls a couple of weeks ago, most of which I initiated," admitted Kupchak, according to SB Nation. The Los Angeles Lakers general manager added that the NBA team needs "to be careful with what we do. Most of the teams that would have interest in our players would have interest in our young players and we covet our young players pretty highly right now. So it would be tough for us to move a young player."
Meanwhile, DeRozan insists that he intends to stay with the Toronto Raptors until the end of his NBA career.
"That's one you thing you can never question: my loyalty to the city," shared DeRozan with Joey Vendetta on the Jeff Blair Show. He added, "How much I really love and appreciate the team and the organization. I think all the fans understand that. A lot of times they don't understand how contracts or things like that. But I've always stressed that this is where I want to be my whole career."