Rumors are swirling that the Orlando Magic are interested in trading for DeMar DeRozan and have expressed those desires directly to the San Antonio Spurs. While nothing appears to be imminent, a trade between these two teams is at least somewhat logical, as both sides have valid reasons to consummate the deal.
Why a DeMar DeRozan Trade Makes Sense for the Spurs and Magic
For the Spurs, the lack of spacing on the court is becoming impossible to ignore. DeRozan has basically stopped shooting three-pointers, which is an issue in its own right but it’s also exacerbated by the return of Dejounte Murray. With Murray only 2-for-10 on threes and DeRozan 0-for-4 from deep, San Antonio isn’t able to create the spacing needed to take full advantage of their offensive weapons.
Trading DeRozan and replacing him with more shooting would open up the court for Murray and theoretically allow for more time for Murray and Derrick White to play together. San Antonio would miss the production DeRozan brings to the table but the hope would be that they could make up for it by improving the spacing for the remaining players, allowing their young players to grow into their roles more freely and take positive steps on the defensive end.
For the Magic, they desperately need a perimeter playmaker. Orlando is currently 29th in the league in scoring efficiency; only the ever-languishing New York Knicks are beneath them. While DeRozan isn’t a perfect fit in San Antonio, he’s a quality playmaker who is good enough to help propel an Eastern Conference team to the playoffs.
As it stands, the Magic don’t have an accomplished playmaker of note. The closest to that they have is either Evan Fournier or DJ Augustin — but both would be considered league average at best in that category. DeRozan would give them a go-to option on the perimeter who could help their young athletes create better scoring opportunities.
What Could Hinder a DeMar DeRozan Trade to the Magic
On both sides of the equation, three-point shooting could derail a possible deal involving DeRozan. On Orlando’s side, DeRozan’s lack of shooting could scare them away since they are already last in the league in three-point percentage. It’s fair for them to wonder if they can take on another non-shooter.
On San Antonio’s end, in a perfect DeRozan deal, they’d get three-point shooting in return. In a trade with the Magic, that’s difficult to accomplish. The Spurs would have to accept less than perfection to get the trade done.
What the Spurs Would Want from the Magic in a DeMar DeRozan Trade
Let’s begin with the players that don’t make sense for the Spurs. Nikola Vucevic is likely the best player for the Magic but he’s a 7-foot, 260-pound center who wouldn’t be a good fit next to LaMarcus Aldridge. Opponents would pick-and-roll the duo to death. On top of that concern, Vucevic just signed a four-year, $100 million contract this past offseason. Not only is that a lot of money to invest in a questionable fit, the Magic aren’t allowed to trade him until January.
Other players the Spurs would likely balk at receiving in a DeRozan trade are Markelle Fultz and DJ Augustin. Fultz is basically a poor man’s Dejounte Murray, while Augustin brings the same weaknesses (small, poor defender) the Spurs are already dealing with by playing Patty Mills and Bryn Forbes.
The Spurs would have interest in Jonathan Isaac but it’s highly unlikely that the Magic would part with their quickly improving, do-everything 22-year-old forward. He’s most likely untouchable — at least in a DeRozan deal.
I don’t think Mo Bamba would be involved in the deal, either. He’s not good enough as a player or beneficial enough as a fit for the Spurs to request him a package. And on Orlando’s end, they likely value the former 6th overall pick as more than salary filler in a trade.
Here are the players who do make some sense for the Spurs:
Aaron Gordon appears to be regressing in Orlando, as his role continues to get smaller and his efficiency is declining. That said, he’d be an intriguing fit in San Antonio. The uber athletic 6-foot-9 forward would start at power forward next to Aldridge at center. He’s not a great three-point shooter (career 32.0%) but he shoots them often enough (6.0 attempts per 100 possessions) to help spread the court if he’s playing the four. Plus, his contract is fair, as he’s owed $34.5 million over the next two seasons.
Moreover, he’s only 24 years old, so he’d fit the timeline that is headlined by Murray. Gordon’s athleticism and ability to run the court would also be a helpful fit next to Murray, White and Lonnie Walker IV, as the Spurs of tomorrow appear destined to become a fast paced outfit.
Compared to DeRozan, Evan Fournier does a lot of the same things — but at a lower level. He’s a decent playmaker who can score off the dribble. He’s somewhat creative with the ball and does a good job of limiting his turnovers. Where DeRozan and Fournier are probably close to equal is on the defensive end, where both reside somewhere south of par. Fournier’s defensive real plus-minus is -1.45, which is even worse than DeRozan’s DRPM number (-0.46).
But where the 6-foot-7, 205-pound Fournier makes sense is outside of the three-point arc. He’s hitting 40.0% of his threes this season and has hit 37.1% for his career. He also launches them at a respectably high rate (8.8 three-point attempts per 100 possessions this year, 8.0 for his career).
Fournier has a $17 million player option for next season, which is probably in the neighborhood of his true value. His lack of defense and skinny frame makes him a less than ideal fit but the Spurs could probably live with getting the poor man’s version of DeRozan who can shoot it from deep.
If you want a hired gun, Terrence Ross fits the ball. He shoots a ton of threes (12.8 per 100 possessions this year, 12.9 last year) and he’s tall enough and athletic enough to find ways to consistently create space for himself.
There are a few problems with him, though. Ross is shooting horrifically so far this season from three-point range at 22.2%. He’s a negative on the defensive end (-0.64 DRPM). Plus, he just signed a $54 million, four-year contract. That’s a lot of money for a bench sniper who’s a defensive liability — and he’s not even eligible to be traded until December 14th.
Depending on which rumors you believe, it’s possible that Al-Farouq Aminu was San Antonio’s initial target this offseason before they went with DeMarre Carroll. He makes some sense on the Spurs as a big wing who can play multiple positions and defend. Then again, if Carroll isn’t playing, how would Aminu get minutes? And would you really want both on the same team?
Will DeMar DeRozan Get Traded to the Magic?
Probably not. It’s rare for a legit trade rumor involving the Spurs to leak. But considering both teams have reasons to make a trade, it could happen. I wouldn’t expect it to be completed any time soon but if the Spurs put DeRozan on the trade market, the Magic do legitimately look like one of the landing spots that makes the most sense.