According to Marc Stein of ESPN, the Toronto Raptors are looking for DeMar DeRozan to “wow” them before signing him to an extension this year. That may or may not happen, given the fact that DeRozan is still extremely reliant upon athleticism, despite attempts to diversify his offensive game last season.
If the Raptors balk at re-signing DeRozan, it could signal an opportunity for the Celtics to make a move for the 23 year old from Southern Cal, who posted 16.7 points per game last season, but shot just 42.2 percent from the floor, a career low after nearly eclipsing 50 percent as a rookie three seasons ago.
DeRozan is still on a rookie contract, and it’s unclear what kind of money he could command on the open market. He’s still an attractive piece to young teams looking to build for the future, but on the Celtics he could occupy a much less substantial role, while providing a Mickael Pietrus-like role off the bench. It would be a welcome departure from “Peaches,” however, as DeRozan is young and a guy that could eventually be incorporated into future plans if he shows the improvement that the Raptors are looking for from him this season.
The Celtics aren’t in the luxury of having a lot of cap room, but GM Danny Ainge has shown this offseason he’s able to find ways around the restrictions of the cap in managing to sign Jason Terry and Courtney Lee, in addition to signing Darko Milicic for a min vet contract. His creativity could put DeRozan in a C’s uniform next offseason, if DeRozan is willing to sacrifice a little money to play alongside the Celtics talented crop of youngster and Rajon Rondo.
DeRozan does not offer the same promise that Avery Bradley does, nor even Jeff Green, but that is why teams may shy away from him. And if they do, the C’s will be happy to plug DeRozan into a sixth/seventh man type role off the bench. His athleticism would add a lot to the 2013-14 Celtics squad, and it’s never too early to look ahead.
We’ll continue to profile some targets for the Celtics in 2013 free agency, as there are a number of players that the C’s could target next year for bargain basement prices. Again, DeRozan’s value is unclear, and that is the case with the players coming up here on Hardwood Houdini’s 2013 “Free Agency Target” series.