Thirteen games into their title defence, the Toronto Raptors find themselves among the top teams in the East, with Pascal Siakam’s impatience for greatness resulting in daily dominance from the 25-year-old.
Elsewhere around the Association, the LeBron-AD Show has been as impressive as expected, Canadians around the league are representing the flag well, and Carmelo Anthony is back in the NBA at long last.
What’s the next big story to come down the line? Let’s take a look at the most intriguing rumours circulating the NBA rumour mill as of late:
Could DeMar DeRozan return to the Raptors?
As big a role as DeMar DeRozan had in Toronto while in a Raptors uniform, his greatest contribution to the team’s history may be his departure, if only because it brought the arrival of Kawhi Leonard, who helped hang the first Raptors title banner in Scotiabank Arena’s rafters.
And yet, the former fan favourite may be on track for a return to Toronto.
“It sounds crazy, but Toronto actually makes a lot of sense as a landing spot for DeRozan,” a Western Conference executive told HoopsHype’s Frank Urbina.
“As far as what Toronto would have to give up, it would probably have to be a first-round pick plus Serge Ibaka or Marc Gasol.”
The Compton, Calif., native has been donning San Antonio Spurs colours for the past year and a half after the July 2018 trade that sent him, Jakob Poeltl and a protected 2019 first-round pick to San Antonio in exchange for Leonard and Danny Green.
Other than the feel-good narrative a reunion with Kyle Lowry would bring, the tangible on-court benefits for the Raptors in reacquiring DeRozan would be likely be limited. Siakam operates as a better primary option; Fred VanVleet has emerged as a more than capable secondary facilitator alongside Lowry. For these Raptors, what added value does DeRozan offer?
But from the Spurs’ perspective, as they sit near the bottom of the Western Conference standings with a 6-13 record, staring down their first missed playoffs in 22 years, moving DeRozan for draft assets is a reasonable avenue to explore.
DeRozan’s current deal pays him $27.7 million this season, with a player option for the 2020-21 campaign, a decent wrinkle in any potential trades for the former Raptor, with free agency not far off.
Knicks, Dolan not ready to move on from Masai
Knicks president James Dolan’s interest in luring Masai Ujiri to New York is well-established, and it seems the club could be gearing up for another run at the Raptors president.
Marc Berman of the New York Post suggested as much Thursday, writing the Knicks front office could be swayed to seek Ujiri’s services once again after witnessing Toronto’s 126-98 shellacking of RJ Barrett and Co. on Wednesday.
Earlier this month, Knicks beat writer Frank Isola detailed how Dolan might try to pitch Ujiri, making clear money won’t be an issue.
“I think it would be very hard to pull off, but the one way the Knicks do pull off things is by spending a lot of money,” Isola told Sportsnet’s Tim Micallef and Sid Seixeiro at the time. “And they’d be able to throw a king’s ransom at Masai.”
Jabari Parker not ruling out a return to Milwaukee
Following a two-year stint that saw him play for Chicago, Washington and now Atlanta, Jabari Parker appears to be open to returning to the city in which he spent the first four years of his NBA career.
The former Milwaukee Bucks second-overall pick reminisced about his time in Wisconsin on Wednesday as his Hawks were in town to play Giannis Antetokounmpo’s squad.
“It’s real special, man, how they were able to build this building,” Parker said to ESPN’s Eric Woodyard. “…It’s just so sad that I’m not able to share it with them and that they moved on, but that’s fine, that’s business. But I do have like a little homesickness from being here. I just miss being here.”
The 24-year-old has a player-option for 2020-21 on the two-year, $13-million deal he signed with the Hawks, and said he’s open to a return to Milwaukee.
“I would never rule out a possible return here. I would never do that,” Parker said. “It’s just so sad how it ended and I wish I could’ve stayed.”
Love committed to Cavs, unfazed by trade chatter
Though the elite talent that once flanked Kevin Love in Cleveland is no longer there, the veteran isn’t exactly jumping at the chance to hop ship.
“I’m just going to let the chips fall,” Love told The Associated Press, as trade chatter involving the veteran continues to build. “I know that this is a young team. I think I can help them. I’m going to do right by Cleveland, the organization.”
That said, the five-time all-star finds himself on a Cavaliers team that’s struggled to a 5-13 record, good for third-worst in the East. While there might be a contender who could benefit from the veteran’s services, he says he’s content with the balance he’s found in his current situation.
“I’ve been committed to Cleveland since Day 1,” Love said. “I know it’s been a little shaky at some points. It’s been really great at some points. But now I’ve found some semblance of balance in my life, not only on the court but away from it.”