WASHINGTON, July 25 (Xinhua) -- One week ago, the Toronto Raptors dealt All-Star guard and franchise icon DeMar DeRozan to the San Antonio Spurs, and now DeRozan was still "in shock" with the trade.
"I'm still in shock. When I was told the news, I couldn't think for a second because it just didn't feel real. I thought it would be something else. If I knew that, I wouldn't have reacted the way I did. I would have been prepared for it. But it caught me completely off-guard because I'm thinking this is another summer. Move forward. I talked to my teammates every single day how we can get better," DeRozan was quoted by ESPN as saying on Wednesday.
"I asked, 'Was I going to be traded? Was there anything going on, if it was a chance I'd be traded?' And on multiple occasions it was, 'No, it was nothing.' If it is, then let the agent know or me know," added DeRozan, who had spent his entire career with the Raptors before the trade.
Last season, Toronto were knocked out of the postseason again by the Cleveland Cavaliers, and according to the club's general manager Masai Ujiri, the team felt something had to be done to try and move up in the Eastern Conference hierarchy. Earlier this year, Toronto coach Dwane Casey -- the NBA's Coach of the Year -- was fired and eventually replaced by Raptors assistant coach Nick Nurse.
"You put the blame on just me and Casey? Cleveland were the only team that we lost to in the postseason -- and that team went to the Finals every single year. With an opportunity approaching itself, my mindset and the rest of my teammates' mindset was the only guy who was in the way of making that happen leaves. Now we got a great opportunity to do something that we haven't been able to do," said the 28-year-old, who last season averaged 23.4 points for Toronto.
Now, DeRozan has to cope with playing under another legendary coach Gregg Popovich, and he said he is ready for it. "I've always been a fan of Pop. There was just something about him from the way he ran his team, the way he coached, his credibility. Everything that stands out about Pop, you just have to love. So to have this opportunity to play with a legendary coach at this point in my career, I think it's one of those blessings."