The Los Angeles Lakers’ decision to acquire Russell Westbrook this past week thrust the organization back into the limelight. Following their disappointing first round exit in the playoffs, LA faded into oblivion. Their activity ahead of the 2021 NBA Draft seemed to recharge the narrative around them as formidable title threats going forward.
While the Westbrook addition was huge, it alone will not be enough to ensure another championship. Additional moves need to be made.
Over the past few days, chatter grew louder and louder regarding DeMar DeRozan potentially taking less money to come to LA and join his hometown team. For a while there, it looked almost inevitable. Then suddenly everything stopped.
On Monday, details began to emerge about the one big roadblock that is preventing DeRozan from signing with the Lakers.
That roadblock? Money.
“I’m trying to poke around for some more info on DeMar right now, as we speak, actually. It’s definitely starting to sound like the situation of him going to Los Angeles on the mid-level is not going to be the case,” Jake Fischer of the Bleacher Report said on Alex Kennedy’s podcast this week.
“There was a hope from Lakers people and from certain players in that organization that he would be willing to [join] – the Kobe connection is real, his hometown, the thought that maybe he could go get a championship for one year and prove that he can do it on that stage ‘cause Kyle Lowry got his ring in Toronto and obviously DeMar DeRozan did not and he’s never really gotten to the further stages of the postseason and had great success yet…
“I think DeMar is an incredible player. What he’s done quietly as a creator [is impressive]; I think he’s been averaging well over [six] assists per game for some time now in San Antonio. He’s something to watch. At this point, I think it’s fair that the mid-level is something that he might not be interested in.
“I’m trying to poke around on that situation and get some more concrete info, but right now, I can definitely say: I don’t think it’s a sure bet that DeMar is going to take that mid-level to go to Los Angeles. That was something that was heavily discussed and rumored the last week or so, but now it does not seem to be the case.”
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This past season DeRozan put up 21.6 points, 6.9 assists and 4.2 rebounds for the San Antonio Spurs. While not being able to get him would definitely be a blow for the Lakers, it wouldn’t be a fatal one. After all, two other big name star veterans are willing to take less money to play for LA.
If DeRozan ultimately opts for a squad that isn’t the Lakers, he has some fairly notable sign-and-trade options available to him. Three teams have expressed interest in putting something together on that front.
Watch this space. Where DeRozan eventually ends up will have massive ramifications on the NBA heading into 2021-22.