Rumors have floated for over a year that Toronto Raptors franchise cornerstone DeMar DeRozan was patiently waiting for free agency so he could bolt home to Los Angeles.
DeRozan, now a two-time All-Star, is expected to decline a $9.5 million player option he holds for next season. He very well could court a max contract from someone, even if it’s not the Raptors.
But the 26-year-old, who never has been on record regarding leaving for L.A., is putting those rumors to rest. But even if it’s not L.A., is there a better spot for him besides Toronto?
“I don’t think so,” DeRozan said, via CBS Sports. “My mindset has always been Toronto. I always preached it. I was passionate about it when we was losing. When we was terrible, I said I’m going to stick through this whole thing and I want to be that guy who brings this organization to where it is now. I definitely don’t want to switch up after we win.
“I’ve been saying it for, how long I been here? Long time. I haven’t changed, not one bit. I took pride in putting that Raptors jersey on when people counted us out or when people said, ‘Why go to Toronto? Why this, why, that, why this, why that.’ You hear it so much. That gave me the motivation to want to prove people wrong or prove critics wrong.”
When Chris Bosh, arguably the greatest player in Raptors history, left the franchise in 2010 to join LeBron James and Dwyane Wade in Miami, DeRozan tweeted the following:
“I don’t even remember tweeting it, but I meant that,” DeRozan said. “I really meant that. To see how far it came, that’s what it’s all about.”
But Los Angeles … it’s so warm and sunny and happy. What’s not to love about L.A.?
“How appealing? I grew up in L.A.,” DeRozan said. “That’s my home. There’s not a part of L.A. I haven’t seen. I don’t get caught up into it. I let whoever comes up with that say what they want to say. Only thing appealing to me is the things I’ve done in this organization and the things that can be done here. And that’s always been my mindset.
“I’m a loyal person. That’s just how I live my whole life. Period. And at this point in my career, it’s all about winning. That’s the only thing that matters.”
Thumbnail photo via Nick Turchiaro/USA TODAY Sports Images
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