DeMar DeRozan finally spoke publicly for the first time since the Toronto Raptors traded him to San Antonio in one of the more shocking NBA trades in recent memory. And he’s still pissed off about it.
The four-time All-Star, who has spent his entire career playing for the Raptors (including signing a large free agent contract to remain in Toronto), claims he wasn’t treated with the respect he thought he deserved when the Raps traded him for Kawhi Leonard last week.
“I felt like I wasn’t treated – with what I sacrificed for my years, you know – with the respect that I thought I deserved,” DeRozan told ESPN’s Chris Haynes on SportsCenter. “By just giving me the say-so of letting me know something’s going on, or that there’s a chance. That’s all I wanted.”
Reports from last week claimed that DeRozan was told by the team that he would not be traded at all, only to have the deal become official less than a week later.
“I’m not saying you don’t have to trade me. Just let me know something’s going on, because I sacrificed everything. Just let me know, you know what I mean? That’s all I ask. Everybody know I’m the most low-maintenance person in the world. Just let me know, so that I can prepare myself for whatever my next chapter is, and I didn’t get that.”
Raptors team president Masai Ujiri opened up a recent press conference regarding the trade with an apology to DeRozan, saying he was sorry for any “miscommunications” between the club and their franchise player.
Ujiri also said that he “gave them a chance” to succeed, referring to the core group of DeRozan, Kyle Lowry, and former head coach Dwayne Casey. DeRozan took exception to that comment, calling it unfair that Casey and himself are being scapegoated simply because they couldn’t beat LeBron James — perhaps the greatest player in history.
“I mean, when you say ‘them,’ that’s kind of frustrating. Like, who is ‘them’? You put the blame on just me and Casey? Because obviously we are the only two who had to suffer from the loss that we had in the Cleveland series. But it’s only one team that we lost to in the postseason – and that team went to the Finals every single year. With an opportunity approaching itself, my mindset and the rest of my teammates’ mindset was the only guy who was in the way of making that happen leaves,” added DeRozan.
“Now we got a great opportunity to do something that we haven’t been able to do. At the end of the day, I gave everything I had to that team. And it showed, it showed in the progress we made as a team and me as an individual. So when you put that out there saying ‘gave them chances’ and ‘I have to do something’… It’s B.S. to me.”
Toronto finished with 59 wins in 2017-18, the most in the Eastern Conference. However, they were swept out of the playoffs by James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in a meager four-game series where they showed very little heart, and have been accused of simply giving up. DeRozan was benched for the fourth quarter of the deciding Game 4.