Eleven years ago, Chicago Bulls star DeMar DeRozan was a 22-year-old fourth-year player who was just handed life-changing money. His second contract — four years and $38 million, signed with the Toronto Raptors in 2012 — was worth a fraction of what today’s players get.
Last summer, Golden State Warriors guard Jordan Poole was a 22-year-old fourth-year player who signed a four-year extension worth $128 million.
DeRozan continued to elevate his game, but Poole seemed to underwhelm in his fourth season, especially in the postseason.
“We all done had our shares of struggles, and sometimes those struggles are necessary for … what’s to come later,” DeRozan said on the May 14 episode of “Podcast P With Paul George.” “That’s the way I look at it. It sucks that he’s struggling for his team. I’m sure he wants to do everything to help his team. But sometimes, for his career, this may be something he needs to be even 10 times better than he could even expect later if this didn’t happen.”
In the Warriors’ 2021-2022 postseason run to the NBA title, Poole averaged 17.0 points, 3.8 assists, and 2.8 rebounds on 65.4% true shooting and connected on 39.1% of his deep looks. It was a different story in this year’s playoffs, when he averaged 10.3 points and shot only 25.4% from deep.
DeRozan has dealt with the stigma that he doesn’t perform up to expectations in the postseason – he currently has the lowest career plus-minus in NBA playoff history, per Statmuse. In last year’s playoffs, DeRozan’s 20.8 point per game average was 7.1 points lower than his regular season scoring average, and his Bulls were knocked out of the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs by the Milwaukee Bucks in five games.
“We not Michael Jordan,” DeRozan said. “It’s only one Michael Jordan, and even he had his moments where he was some s***. And he figured it out. It made him more resilient and he came back. So that’s how I look at it. I don’t think it’s because of all that other stuff. That’s just my opinion.
“If he wasn’t going through this moment that he’s going through now, would he pan out to be the player that he probably sees his self to be? Probably not,” DeRozan said on the podcast.”You probably need this moment to become more later down the line. It sucks in the moment but that’s how I look at it. Because I been through it, P been through it – we been through that. And sometimes that’s the s*** that builds you up to even be more of a more resilient player. Because, s***, your favorite players, everybody done went through it someway, somehow.”
Jordan Poole Likely Was Affected by Offseason Punch
In October 2022, Poole’s offseason was punctuated with a punch in the face from teammate Draymond Green, an attack that created season-long tension between younger players such as Poole and veterans like Green, according to a May 13 story by ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne.
“I don’t speak on it much. But I will say that … you’ve got to have a different level of maturity,” Poole told Shelburne. “We had a season to play. You’re going to have to play with these people in the locker room, and that’s why I said maturity is a big thing. What I know for a fact is there aren’t many people who would be able to think logically and understand the magnitude of the situation, you know?”
Poole told The Ringer’s Logan Murdock for a story published May 15 that his relationship with Green is “just business” and “basketball.”
DeMar DeRozan Backs Patrick Beverley’s Claims
DeRozan was asked about the impact of Poole’s contract and “100%” agreed with sentiments from teammate Patrick Beverley that many players in the NBA simply do not love basketball and instead play because of their talent alone.
“You see it from both ways,” DeRozan said. “Guys say, ‘Man, I got to get paid. I got to do this.’ And you see some guys get paid and be like, ‘I’m good.’ It definitely varies. I remember my contract year, after I got paid, it was a thing to me. Like, ‘F*** that. I gotta work twice as hard.’ … Just because I didn’t want my contract to be a issue or even be talked about. So I wanted to work my a** off even more.”
He cited that initial big payday in the summer of 2012 ahead of the Olympics that saw Team USA win gold. DeRozan was a member of the USA Select Team that scrimmages against Team USA.
“My motivation was even pushed even higher. But that’s me. Some guys be like, ‘S***, I’m cool. I’m good. This was all I needed. I’ll turn in back up in three, four years when my contract is up, and it don’t work like that.”
Beverley previously had estimated that “50%” of NBA players don’t love the game and that was being kind, he said. George was more charitable, putting that number at roughly “75 to 100” players in the league that “stink.”
On Beverley’s intensity, DeRozan said in April that Beverley even “sleeps aggressively.”