Toronto Raptors general managerMasai Ujiri said his top priority this offseason will be to re-signDeMar DeRozan,while theteam's run to the Eastern Conference finals proved Dwane Casey is his squad's "coach for the future."
DeRozan, a two-time All-Star who averaged 23.5 points per game during the regular season, is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1. DeRozan said on Saturday, a day after the Raptors were eliminated by the Cleveland Cavaliers, that he hoped to re-sign with the Raptors, the only team he has played for in his NBA career.
"Our No. 1 goal is to bring DeMar back here," Ujiri said Monday at his season-ending news conference. "We feel great that he wants to come back to our organization. I spoke to him [Sunday], and his eyes were still red. You could tell. He said he felt empty the next day, which was telling.
"Speaking to him andKyle [Lowry], they almost felt like we had a game to play still, and that game is not there. There's that hunger, and you like that, and then now, it's my part to figure it out."
Casey is entering the team option year of his current contract after leading the Raptors to a 56-26 record in the regular season, and postseason series victories over the Indiana Pacers and Miami Heat. Ujiri said negotiating an extension for his coach should be easy.
"Coach Casey's our coach for the future," Ujiri said, confirming an earlier ESPN report. "That's very easy for us to figure out. That will be done in our sleep, I think."
If talks progress as expected, Casey should land a new deal in circumstances not unlike Portland's Terry Stotts.
Stotts also coached this season with only a team option left on his contract and led the Blazers to better-than-expected results. The sides quickly came to terms on a three-year extension to tack on to Stotts' option season soon after Portland's elimination from the playoffs.
CenterBismack Biyombo, a breakout star in the postseason, is expected to decline his player option and also become an unrestricted free agent on July 1.Ujiri conceded that re-signing both Biyombo and DeRozan might not be possible.
"But honestly, it's our jobs. We have to figure it out," he said.
Information from ESPN's Marc Stein contributed to this report.
GM: Raptors hope to re-sign DeMar DeRozan, extend Dwane Casey
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