Raptors sign DeRozan to four-year, $38-million extension

Raptors guard DeMar DeRozan goes to the basket against Bucks forward Tobias Harris during...

Raptors guard DeMar DeRozan goes to the basket against Bucks forward Tobias Harris during pre-season action at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ont., Oct. 22, 2012. (MIKE CASSESE/Reuters)

RYAN WOLSTAT, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:08 AM ET

TORONTO - With a midnight deadline looming, the Raptors locked up swingman DeMar DeRozan to a hefty four-year contract extension, getting his signature on the deal right after player introductions prior to Wednesday’s loss to Indiana.

Talks had been on-going for weeks and progressed considerably as the Halloween deadline to get extensions done with class of 2009 players approached.

DeRozan did not come cheap, signing for $38 million — before incentives.

Considering the amount, the question has to be asked, why get this done now?

The Raptors could have allowed DeRozan to become a restricted free agent next season, allowing them to match any offer thrown his way.

Sacramento went that route with Tyreke Evans, selected five picks ahead of DeRozan. Milwaukee, with Brandon Jennings, who went a pick after DeRozan. Philadelphia also chose not to lock up Jrue Holiday, a talented young point guard who slipped to 17th overall.

In recent days, members of DeRozan’s draft class helped establish market value though, by signing. Ty Lawson, one of the league’s top 10 point guards, inked a four-year, $48-million deal with Denver. Golden State’s Stephen Curry took one for $4 million less, largely because of on-going injury issues and James Harden got a whopping five-year, $80-million extension from the Houston Rockets.

DeRozan’s former USC teammate, Taj Gibson, one of the league’s top sixth men and defenders, signed a deal identical to DeRozan’s late Wednesday night.

Still, the Raptors will be betting heavily on continued improvement from DeRozan, who led the club in pre-season scoring, looking quite a bit better than the player who struggled through a disappointing 2011-12 campaign.

Comparable players like O.J. Mayo and Nick Young signed for $8.2 million over two years, and $6 million for one year, respectively.

Philadelphia’s Thaddeus Young signed for five years at about $8.8 million per season, George Hill got $8 million a season for five years, Wilson Chandler got five years averaging $6 million a campaign and Jeff Green was handed $36 million over four years by Boston.

Portland’s Nic Batum and Denver’s Danilo Gallinari average $11.5 and $10.5 million a season on their extensions. DeRozan can approach those numbers if he hits his incentives.

The Raptors currently have only two guaranteed contracts on the books in 2015-16 and six in 2014-15.

At media day a month ago, the Raptors indicated that an extension might have to wait until next summer, when DeRozan would become a restricted free agent, after he proved his worth and answered some questions about his game.

It made sense. If he proved he deserved the money, the team could have given it to him then.

“He is clearly a piece of this team that we see as a piece for the future. He’s made great strides in his first few years, and we’re anticipating he has a much higher ceiling to (reach),” general manager Bryan Colangelo said at the time.

“We’ve also agreed that should we not come to a conclusion with respect to an extension at this time, clearly it’s not the end of the world. We may have to grow together more before that deal is imminent.”

Instead, the team rewarded DeRozan for his work ethic, his solid pre-season and his commitment to the city and the franchise.

DeRozan had a disastrous first night at the office following the deal, missing 9-of-14 shot attempts, most memorably, a potential game-winning layup and getting out-rebounded 15-5 by Paul George, who locked him down defensively.

When Andrea Bargnani was extended at nearly the same rate, the deal was ridiculed as well.

Now it’s a bargain.

It will be up to DeRozan to make history repeat itself.

“I’ve got to be that much better than I was last year and (show) that much more to help this team win. Now it’s that much more,” DeRozan said after the game.

“It’s an honour. I’m a loyal dude. I stick to what I start with. Them to just have the same passion to me, it’s a great thing and I feel like I owe them all I can bring to the team.”


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