DeMar DeRozan planning to stick with Raptors

TORONTO -- Eastern Conference All-Star guard DeMar DeRozan says it will be "pretty tough" for interested teams to steal him away from the Raptors in free agency this summer.

"My whole mindset has always been this is home for me," DeRozan said in an interview that will air in full on Saturday's Meet the All-Stars show on ESPN Radio at 5:30 p.m. "I never think otherwise unless it's brought up to me, or you see things, or people ask you about certain things.

"This has always been home to me. I took pride in putting on this Toronto Raptors jersey since I've been drafted here. And my whole goal was to get this team to the point where it is now. And I feel I've been a major key to that."

ESPN.com's Zach Lowe has reported that the Los Angeles Lakers, among other teams, are planning to offer DeRozan a maximum contract this summer once the Southern California native opts out of the final year of his current four-year, $40 million deal.

But Kyle Lowry, DeRozan's backcourt mate with the Raptors and fellow All-Star co-host this weekend, expressed confidence in his visit Thursday with NBA on ESPN Radio that Toronto can retain the seventh-year player.

"He will be a free agent," Lowry told ESPN Radio. "That's the best thing for him to do. And for me as a friend, as a friend, and what he did for me during my free agency, I'll do the same thing. I will just listen and sit back. I won't give him no advice, and I won't push him anywhere. Because, as a friend, friendship comes before basketball, and that's my guy.

"Wherever he makes a decision to go -- and I'm hoping it's back here, which I think it's gonna be -- I won't push him or persuade him or anything. I'll just say: 'Hey, listen, bro. I'm here to listen to you.'"

DeRozan, the No. 9 pick in the 2007 draft, is averaging a career-high 23.4 points per game as the Raptors entered the All-Star break placed second in the East, sitting three games behind the Cleveland Cavaliers at 35-17.

Sources tell ESPN.com that the Raptors, emboldened by that success after establishing themselves as the foremost challenger in the conference to the Cavaliers, have been active in assessing their trade options in advance of the Feb. 18 trade deadline as they search for an upgrade at power forward.

The Raptors, sources say, have had exploratory discussions to gauge the possibility of acquiring Denver's Kenneth Faried, Brooklyn's Thaddeus Young and the Phoenix duo of Markieff Morris and P.J. Tucker.