DeRozan said:

“At the end of the day, this [Toronto] is where I got drafted, this is definitely where I want to be…”

Wednesday at midnight is the deadline to extend him, or else the best the Raptors can do is make him a RFA by offering him the qualifying offer next summer. The fact that they’ve left it this late is already an indication of where re-signing DeRozan is on the the priority list. For people they like (ahem, Bargnani) they do it well before their time, but for DeRozan it’s going down to the wire. He hasn’t exactly endeared himself to the organization or the fans based on his play, so at this point the decision to extend will solely happen based on the improvement the Raptors see him making, rather than any sort of record.

I remember his first summer league where he showed traces of being a player who could amount to something by this time, and I recall the improvements being recommended at the time being of the nature of ‘ball handling’, ‘mid-range shot’, and ‘defense’. Here we are three years later and those three aspects remain to be improved in any significant manner. You can check his shooting zones all you want, I know off the top of my head that he hasn’t evolved as I’d hoped he would.

Trading him is an option and I recall the Bulls wanting him in a deal last year, so his three-year old NBA career has peaked interest around the league. I’m just not sure if it’s as a starter, which is what he’s slotted to be here. In fact, a common vein in all the Raptors’ losing seasons (and this is true for losing teams) is that most of their starters would never dream to start on any respectable NBA team, and right now DeRozan fits the bill. It’s for this reason that they should not extend him until he’s given them enough reason to believe that he’s capable of being a starting shooting guard in the league. He’s got one more year left to prove it, and the Raptors hold all the cards. A good season means the Raptors extend the qualifying offer with a chance to match, and a bad one means waving good bye. The worst-case scenario is that he improves and blows his currently perceived ceiling, gets a mind-blowing offer, which the Raptors don’t feel comfortable matching. I’ll take my chances.

With Calderon coming off the books, and potentially DeRozan as well, the Raptors would be close to $19M under the cap next season, and would have the chance to go after an elite level player like Monta Ellis, expected to opt-out, next summer. I’m just throwing a name out there, but you get the idea: if you’re not getting a surefire starter for years to come, no point extending DeRozan because money’s better spent elsewhere.

The flip side of the coin is that if you extend him right now you might put yourself in a position to buy low, but that’s a gamble at best, only because DeRozan hasn’t been able to distinguish himself from his build of player. Let me put it this way: if there’s a legitimate debate that Nick Young is better than you, then we got a problem. The Raptors did do just that with Jose Calderon and Andrea Bargnani, and neither quite panned out the way they had hoped. DeRozan, at this point in his career, has shown less than either of those two.

The insurance at the two isn’t great. There’s Terrence Ross and Alan Anderson, a rookie and a D-Leaguer which will greatly help in keep DeRozan’s minutes up this year. Even that’s not a guarantee, the way Casey benched DeRozan last year in the fourth at times speaks to either tough love or a pure sense of frustration. Either way, it’s the right approach. It’s a long way off from what was visioned by Bryan Colangelo when he was drafted, when he was compared to another ninth pick he had made, Amare Stoudemire:

“Amare was a little different. He was very raw. DeMar has got more refined basketball skills. He’s got the physical tools to be like the player who everyone says he reminds him of and that’s Vince Carter. He’s got that raw physical talent that can be honed to come together. The question is what can he become as DeMar DeRozan the basketball player? We’re excited to be a part of that.”

Casey did give DeRozan some lip-service (other quotes in link too):

“DeMar’s one of the most talented wings in the league and he’s learning every day to be efficient,” Casey said. “He understands that, he’s getting to the foul line, doing what we ask him to do, going in the low post.”

There’s still hope, and I think another year of trial sounds just about right to see exactly what we got here. The Raptors are in a perfect position here and should do nothing on Wednesday.

Team Note: Magloire is staying with the organization despite being cut. It’s called pulling a Triano.