How DeMar DeRozan got over being traded and embraced a Spurs

8:46 AM ET

SAN ANTONIO — As Rudy Gay chomps on a sandwich in a locker room brazen of a San Antonio Spurs’ muster opener, DeMar DeRozan points an iPhone his approach to exhibit a FaceTime plead with former Toronto Raptors teammate Kyle Lowry.

“What he say?” Gay asks between bites.

“You’re f—ing upheld to me,” DeRozan whispers back.

Belly delight fast envelops that dilemma of a locker room, only a few stairs from a door. DeRozan has come a prolonged approach from heartbreak.

“It took a while for me to get behind in that happy place,” DeRozan says, “where we didn’t caring about many in a clarity of like, ‘Just be happy, man. Just be yourself. Don’t worry about all that other stuff.'”

Maybe it’s also that a some-more than 1,400 miles separating Toronto and San Antonio are enmity DeRozan emotionally from a pain of Jul 18. That’s a day a Raptors traded him to a Alamo City along with Jakob Poeltl and a stable 2019 first-round collect in sell for a discontented Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green.

DeRozan relishes being ‘the closer’ for Spurs

DeMar DeRozan strike San Antonio’s final 3 margin goals and snagged 3 rebounds in overtime to punctuate a 34-point opening Monday night opposite Dallas, serve solidifying him as a closer a Spurs lacked final season.

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  • Now scarcely healed from a abrasive fulfilment that he was no longer wanted by an classification he had no enterprise to leave, DeRozan is embracing both San Antonio’s championship enlightenment and a calculable inlet of his possess career, that includes 4 All-Star appearances, 5 true trips to a playoffs as a Raptor and a 2016 Olympic bullion award — though no NBA titles.

    DeRozan aims to rewrite that final partial of his bio.

    “Every day that goes by, my days in this fasten are removing limited,” he says. “And we wish to maximize and take full advantage of everything, of being means to contest for a championship. Because if we were to ask me my rookie year if we would demeanour adult 10 years after and this is where I’d be, we wouldn’t trust it.

    “So now it’s about putting all that I’ve learned, all we went through, that I’ve accomplished, my fails, my sacrifices, only putting all that together and bargain that it’s time to lay it all out there on a line. Because when it’s time to hang it up, we wish to have no regrets.”

    DeRozan creates it transparent he wants to concentration on relocating brazen instead of reliving what took place in Toronto. He doesn’t wish to plead his struggles with depression, nonetheless a new Spur says he’s “feeling great” mentally. But DeRozan acknowledges that entirely focusing on what’s subsequent is unfit though overcoming a pain he endured this summer. Asked if he’s harm by what happened in Toronto and either he sees it as a motivating force, DeRozan doesn’t hesitate.

    “Both, though a doubt,” he says. “I unequivocally was intensely hurt. I’d be fibbing if we told we we wasn’t. we always done it transparent that Toronto was where we wanted to retire. You never listened a actor contend that. No star player. Nobody. My whole design being there was fighting opposite a tarnish that guys didn’t wish to play there. As it happened to me, when we gave all we could on a justice and off a court, it unequivocally hurt. It unequivocally hurt. To feel like, ‘Damn, we wasn’t nothing? we wasn’t this? All right, cool. Now, I’m going to uncover you.'”


    DEROZAN STEPPED FOOT inside a Spurs’ trickery as a member of a group for a initial time on a dusk of Aug. 27 and immediately looked adult during a rafters to see a franchise’s 5 championship banners.

    As a relate of bouncing basketballs reverberated in a gym with teammates grunting by an offseason workout, DeRozan laughed to himself during a awkwardness of a moment. He wasn’t meditative about his unpleasant dissection with a Raptors. He wasn’t feeling a weight of expectations compared with replacing a actor of Leonard’s caliber, a daunting charge of personification for Gregg Popovich or fasten a patrol that has modernized to a postseason 21 uninterrupted years.

    That initial night in San Antonio, DeRozan instead found himself consumed with a many harmless of concerns.

    Where’s a Gatorade? Where are a bathrooms? Which doorway leads where? Let me make certain we stay out of people’s spaces.

    Then, a feeling of San Antonio’s enlightenment kicked in like a surpassing explanation toward jump-starting a recovering process.

    “You feel that vibe, and we demeanour during a final championship was 2014. we was in a fasten for that,” DeRozan says. “To be a partial of something that only happened 4 years ago, we have that clarity of feeling that this is what it’s all about. Instead of articulate about it, we come in here and we see it each day. You go to a arena, we see it each day, and we wish to kind of have a same thing left on your bequest as partial of this franchise. It kind of gives we that additional craving and proclivity when we see something like that.”

    As if DeRozan ever indispensable some-more motivation.

    DeRozan mostly looks for opposite sources of motivation. It could be anything from “the bulls— rankings that ESPN might put out,” he says, or a vicious acknowledgement on Twitter. But this conditions is different.

    “This here was my biggest, by far, motivational apparatus to use,” DeRozan says of being traded.

    Gay, who spent tools of a 2012-13 and 2013-14 seasons with DeRozan in Toronto, and Lowry have also been constituent components to a new Spur’s recovering process. When DeRozan schooled of a trade to San Antonio, his initial call went to Lowry. He afterwards called Gay, who reacted in a approach DeRozan didn’t expect.

    “He laughed,” DeRozan says.

    “Because it was funny,” Gay responds from one locker case over. “I only knew we had my male behind finally. Forget all a basketball stuff. We get to hang out like we used to. we knew he was mad, though we knew it would all work out, man. It always does. If you’re a good dude and we do right by people, no matter what people do by you, somebody is going to make it right.”

    DeRozan eventually found himself shouting too, meaningful Gay would drive him true on avoiding a intensity pitfalls of personification for Popovich, while also offered him on a Spurs’ culture. It was Gay, after all, who helped DeRozan forge a attribute with DeRozan’s stream best friend, Lowry.

    “When it’s time to hang it up, we wish to have no regrets.”

    San Antonio Spurs ensure DeMar DeRozan

    The subsequent day, DeRozan dialed adult former Raptors manager Dwane Casey, who told DeRozan that he would adore personification for Popovich. That view was reliable when Casey and DeRozan sat down Oct. 4 for cooking in San Antonio.

    “He was so hurt, and we was only perplexing to assistance him to feel good,” Casey says.

    “[I told him] to keep being himself, a category male that he is and paint his family and go to San Antonio with your conduct hold high, and now paint a Spurs to a best of his ability.”

    Still, DeRozan indispensable reassurances from Popovich and Spurs ubiquitous manager R.C. Buford.

    After Leonard’s trade ask became open in June, San Antonio hold discussions with mixed teams to pierce a authorization cornerstone, though no teams were peaceful to give adult a profitable immature resources a Spurs sought in a intensity deal. So if a Spurs were going to trade Leonard, alighting a four-time All-Star still in his primary as a deputy felt like a gift.

    “With a peculiarity of a actor and a peculiarity of a person, it was a enlightenment and a values fit,” Buford says. “But some-more importantly, it was an event to get an All-NBA player.”

    Still, terror wore on DeRozan’s mind. He hadn’t listened many from a Spurs in a evident issue of a trade.

    “Then, we had that initial review with Pop (a few days after a trade), and it eased my nerves,” DeRozan says. “Initially when we got traded, it was so crazy, so hectic. You didn’t get any reassurances. You didn’t hear zero from nobody. Your mind is only wandering, wandering. All we know is this one dude didn’t wish to be somewhere, and now am we only a replacement in a sense? You know what we mean? Like, damn. You’re only meditative all forms of ways.

    “But when we talked to [Popovich], talked to R.C., it was such a soundness of understanding, like, ‘We didn’t trade you. We traded for you.’ Understanding, ‘We wish you. We wish we here. We wish we to be you. Don’t worry about nothing. We’re going to make a transition as easy as possible.’ When we hear something from Pop like that, that’s all we need to hear. You don’t need to hear no whole story or nothing. That’s all we indispensable to hear.”

    San Antonio’s coronet accepted a problem of perplexing to rivet a actor who didn’t wish to be there — during slightest in that impulse with emotions still raw. But DeRozan’s recovering routine changed serve along in July, when he spent time operative with Popovich during a Team USA camp.

    Internally, a Spurs devise to do all they can to make DeRozan feel wanted. After all that transpired with Leonard final deteriorate — including allegations that San Antonio resisted Leonard’s welfare to cruise outward opinions per a quadriceps injury, in further to open doubt of a conditions by Popovich — it’s transparent a Spurs don’t wish to repeat identical issues in this new relationship.

    “The frankness that Pop intent with him during a time they got to spend together with USA Basketball, all of that hopefully built a trust,” Buford says. “We’ve got a prolonged approach to go to conclude a relationship, and to conclude who a group is going to be. But we consider Rudy was a large partial of providing us a height for him to get past his initial shock.”


    LOCAL GRAFFITI ARTIST Nik Soupè, 45, was during his studio, scribbling a blueprint of Spurs indicate ensure DeJounte Murray, when he listened about a trade. Soupè could clarity a pain in DeRozan’s greeting immediately following a trade.

    Having already embellished a picture of Spurs legends Manu Ginobili, Popovich, Tony Parker, David Robinson, Tim Duncan and George Gervin, as good as LaMarcus Aldridge, Patty Mills and Murray during south side grill Rudy’s Seafood, Soupè kicked around ideas with owners Roland Ramirez.

    “I asked, ‘You consider it’s cold if we paint this?'” Soupè says. “He was disturbed about how fans would react. But for softened or worse, DeMar is a Spur now. And after reading his reactions to a trade, he was apparently upset. This is San Antonio. The picture was like, ‘Welcome to a table, let’s have a beer.'”

    So dual days after a trade, Soupè spent an afternoon investigate around 15 images of DeRozan. The subsequent day, Soupè toiled 8 hours in a heat, burdensome 10 cans of mist paint to qualification an 8×6 picture of DeRozan that prisoner “a demeanour of intensity and determination.”

    When DeRozan initial saw images of a picture on Instagram while operative his basketball stay in Victoria, British Columbia, he hadn’t nonetheless stepped feet in San Antonio as a member of a Spurs. Definitely fake, maybe even photoshopped, he thought.

    Then, a picture went viral.

    “To see that, it unequivocally gave me one of those feelings where it was like, ‘Damn, they adore me like this already?'” DeRozan says. “It gives we that additional craving to go out there and do something for a fans and make them feel softened than we felt in that moment.”


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    The Spurs didn’t unequivocally have a plain closer final deteriorate a approach they do now in DeMar DeRozan. He relishes a responsibility: Video by Michael C. Wright

    ALDRIDGE PREDICTED IN stay that “when we get a top-10 male in a fasten on your team” like DeRozan, “you’re going to get better.” The Spurs could never entirely implement Leonard final season, as he sat out all though 9 games.

    Popovich and a Spurs coronet never doubted what DeRozan would bring.

    Last deteriorate in Toronto, DeRozan averaged 23 points, 5.2 assists and 3.9 rebounds. Through 6 games this season, he is averaging 28.3 points, 8 assists and 6 rebounds in heading a Spurs to a 4-2 record interjection to his purchase play down a widen of games.

    “He’s a discerning study,” Popovich says. “He picked things adult unequivocally quickly, and he’s a assured player. The diversion comes easy to him. He’s in a formidable conditions since he’s still perplexing to learn a complement and learn about his teammates, though he’s such a peaceful passer and plays hard.”

    DeRozan’s gusto for playmaking has been a many startling partial of his diversion among a Spurs brass. When he initial arrived in San Antonio, there were questions as to how he and Aldridge — both masters of a midrange diversion — would coexist. But a midrange component of DeRozan’s diversion has authorised him to find teammates for open shots after sketch in defenders, while also assisting him measure a many points (170) in authorization story by his initial 6 games with a Spurs.

    The maestro dished a career-high 14 dimes in a team’s Oct. 22 overtime feat opposite a Los Angeles Lakers, while scoring 32 points. DeRozan scarcely notched a triple-double only 5 days later, producing 30 points and 12 rebounds to go with 8 assists in another tighten win over a Lakers. The opening noted his second double-double of a deteriorate after not achieving such a stat line a singular time final deteriorate in Toronto. He roughly followed with another double-double in Monday’s overtime win over a Dallas Mavericks, induction 34 points and 9 assists.

    “He’s incited out to be maybe a best passer on a team, frankly,” Popovich says.

    DeRozan is perplexing to figure out how many deeper he can puncture within himself to clear tools of his diversion that sojourn undiscovered. He knows he can score. He has softened as a passer. But defending, learning, training and heading are elements DeRozan says he’s still pursuing. That’s where Popovich comes in. And it’s because DeRozan didn’t demur in seeing Casey’s recommendation to welcome what could spin out to be a many riveting section in his NBA story.

    DeRozan says he has never had a drink, doesn’t celebration and is “simple.” He’s a form of male who finds a same delight from examination Netflix (he’s now perplexed by deteriorate 2 of “Ozark”) as he does removing mislaid in a pages of a good book.

    In other words, he’s a Spur.

    “When you’re underneath a good mythological manager like Pop, there’s so many that can be brought out of me that we substantially haven’t even seen yet,” DeRozan says. “That’s what I’m always acid for. What’s another way? What’s something new that we can find in myself to move out from my game?”


    DEROZAN MADE HIS regular-season Spurs entrance Oct. 17 during home opposite a Minnesota Timberwolves.

    During timeouts and huddles in a loss moments of a game, Mills and other teammates prodded DeRozan to tighten out a game, that is precisely what he did. With 32.3 seconds left, DeRozan kissed a 12-footer off a potion to put San Antonio adult 110-108. He would go on to measure a team’s final 4 points, withdrawal Pau Gasol to soap-box about a “great poise” his new teammate displayed. DeRozan scored 28 points to go with 4 assists in a team’s 112-108 win.

    More than an hour later, after a locker room had finally privileged out, DeRozan walked briskly down a hallway, grin on his face, wearing a red sweatsuit and a span of a strange colorway Air Jordan I. DeRozan had likely a opener would be “my recovering relief.”

    As DeRozan upheld by, he incited around and walked behind a step as if he’d lost something.

    “Hey, if we occur to speak to a male that embellished that picture again,” DeRozan said, “please tell him we pronounced appreciate you.”

    With that, DeRozan left down a hall, out a doorway and into a night. Another step closer to completing a recovering process.

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