DeMar DeRozan Meeting With Clippers: Is He The Kawhi Leonard Replacement This Season?


The irony would be impossible to ignore. Free agent DeMar DeRozan is meeting with the Los Angeles Clippers today, to see if there's a fit for him in his hometown of L.A.

DeRozan, of course, was traded by the Toronto Raptors in 2018 for Kawhi Leonard, in a move that ended up in a championship for Masai Ujiri and the Raptors. Kawhi Leonard is fully expected to re-sign with the Clippers, but he will likely miss the entire season while recovering from his torn ACL surgery. 

By joining the Clippers for 2021-22, DeRozan would essentially be "filling in" for Kawhi in the Clips' lineup for the year. Now that's some delicious irony. 

There is one big detail getting in the way of this move: DeRozan would have to take a monstrous pay cut, as he earned $27.7 million dollars a year on his just-expired 5-year contract. To join the Clippers, DeRozan would have to accept the $5.9 million taxpayer mid-level exception to come home to L.A.  

A $22 million dollar pay cut might be too bitter a pill for him to swallow. 

The only way to avoid this scenario would be for Leonard to opt-out and not re-sign with the Clippers. And no one thinks that's going to happen. 

Other teams that have DeRozan on their radar include the Miami Heat, the Dallas Mavericks and the New York Knicks. With the Heat, DeRozan could earn the full mid-level exception of about $9 million, while the Mavs and Knicks each have much more to spend under the cap.

Photo Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports