Asked if this was the first official day in his quest for “revenge,” DeRozan chose to distance himself from the word.
“I wouldn’t call it revenge,” DeRozan said, according to Jabari Young of The Athletic. “I more so call it a new challenge. One of the challenges that I’m looking forward to, going into my 10th year.
“The exciting part of a movie, so to speak.”
DeRozan was traded to the Spurs as part of the July blockbuster that sent Kawhi Leonard to the Raptors. The deal came as a shock to DeRozan, who spent his entire career in Toronto and had signed a five-year contract with the club in 2016. He was reportedly upset at Raptors management following the deal and acknowledged Monday that how he moves forward will be a defining moment in his career.
“Yeah for sure. Definitely the biggest challenge,” said DeRozan.
“It was tough,” he admitted about the trade. “I’d be lying if I didn’t say it was tough. It’s one of those things that threw me off for about two weeks, before I started to [gather myself] and refocus. But once I got past that, it’s been smoother.”
Those two weeks involved serious contemplation for the 29-year-old DeRozan.
“I just indulged in the reality of what happened,” he said. “Really soaking that in and making it a reality instead of feeling like, ‘Nah this didn’t happen.’ Just figuring that part out and once I got past that, it was easier.”
DeRozan became a fan favourite in Toronto, but his inconsistency in the playoffs was well documented. The Raptors were swept by the Cleveland Cavaliers in each of the past two post-seasons and sought to make changes this past summer.
Leonard, who was acquired with guard Danny Green, also spoke to media on Monday, and said he was excited to play in a “great city that loves basketball.”
“I want to play here,” Leonard said of Toronto. “As long as I have a jersey on, I want to play basketball. I came here with an open mind. I want to do great things …. By winning games, that’s how you get star-calibre players who want to come here.
“My focus is on this year, striving to win a championship,” the impending free agent added. “If you look over the future, you are going to trip over the present.”