The last time we did this exercise, it was because there was a chance DeMar DeRozan would be a free agent.

It's a little different this time around.

Having picked up the player option in his contract for the 2020-21 season, DeRozan will be an unrestricted free agent at the season's end, giving him the option of signing with any team in the league this offseason.

DeRozan hasn't been named an All-Star since the 2017-18 season, but he's coming off one of the best seasons of his career. In addition to leading the San Antonio Spurs in scoring with 21.6 points per game, he averaged a career-best 6.9 assists to go along with 4.2 rebounds. He was incredibly efficient both as a scorer and playmaker, shooting 49.5 percent from the field while committing only 2.0 turnovers per game.

In a free agent class headlined by LA Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard, DeRozan is widely considered to be one of the best players available this offseason.

With that in mind, where could DeRozan end up if he decides to leave the Spurs?

 

New York Knicks

The Knicks have a couple of things going for them this offseason. The first? They're going to have money to spend.

According to RealGM's Keith Smith, the Knicks could create as much as $72.8 million in cap space, the most in the league. That number is unlikely to actually be that high - Smith has their projected cap space at $53.1 million, which is still the most in the league - but they'll be in a position to offer one of the top free agents a max-level contract.

The second? A need for some playmaking, especially if Derrick Rose walks in free agency.

The Knicks were one of the best defensive teams in the league this season. It was the other end of the court where they struggled. In the regular season, they ranked 22nd in offensive efficiency in scoring at a rate of 110.2 points per 100 possessions. They struggled even more in their first-round series with the Atlanta Hawks, scoring at a rate of 102.1 points per 100 possessions to rank 15th in offensive efficiency among the 16 teams that made the playoffs.

DeRozan might not solve all of their offensive issues by himself - the Knicks would still be in desperate need of 3-point shooting - but he would ease the playmaking burden off of Julius Randle and give New York a go-to scorer to pair with RJ Barrett in the backcourt.

The Knicks were an option the last time we looked at free agent destinations for DeRozan for many of the same reasons. The biggest difference this time around is they're trending upwards, having gone from posting a 21-45 record in 2019-20 to earning the Eastern Conference's No. 4 seed with a 41-31 record in 2020-21.