Rick Zamperin: Should the Raptors move on from DeMar DeRozan?

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You read that headline correctly.

Should the Toronto Raptors say goodbye to one of the franchise’s best players? Is it time to part ways with DeMar DeRozan?

You would’ve been laughed at if you asked that question out loud over the last couple of years, but apparently, the thought has crossed the minds of those who run the Raptors.

According to Marc Stein of the New York Times, the Raps “quietly explored” the idea last offseason of trading the four-time All-Star guard, who along with Kyle Lowry, are Toronto’s franchise players.

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And that was following DeRozan’s best season in the NBA, a campaign in which he averaged a career-best 27.3 points per game.

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But after back-to-back playoff exits in which the Raptors were swept by LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference semifinals, I wouldn’t blame team president Masai Ujiri for not leaving any stone unturned in an effort to improve the team.

READ MORE: Raptors eliminated from playoffs after falling 128-93 to Cavs

It won’t be easy though. Trying to find a willing partner that is eager, and even able, to bring in DeRozan’s hefty contract ($83 million over the next three years) is the biggest hurdle.

I don’t blame the Raptors for floating this trial balloon, and as much as DeRozan’s play in must-win playoff games has been frustrating to watch, I think Toronto should stick with the soon-to-be 29-year-old.

READ MORE: Raptors fans publish letters of support after DeMar DeRozan comes forward about depression

They’re not going to get anywhere near DeRozan’s talents in a trade, and what’s to say that he doesn’t have his best years still ahead of him?

I say the Raps should keep marching on their path and hope the team’s new coach can unlock Toronto’s untapped potential come playoff time next spring.

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