The Los Angeles Lakers’ acquisition of Rui Hachimura pumped fresh life into speculation about the team’s short-term and long-term plans.
Chicago Bulls star DeMar DeRozan has been linked to L.A. for a long time. It is something of a known fact at this point that the Lakers were deciding between him and Russell Westbrook two years ago and opted for the latter.
DeRozan responded with an MVP-caliber campaign the following season, while Westbrook struggled in his inaugural run with Los Angeles.
Now the Lakers have a chance to remedy that mistake, particularly given how terrible the Chicago Bulls have been thus far and the growing likelihood that they will be sellers rather than buyers at the NBA Trade Deadline.
This week, Zach Lowe and Ramona Shelburne delved into the likelihood of the Lakers pursuing DeRozan.
“I would posit this to you: The Lakers have had their eye on the Bulls since September,” Lowe said to Shelburne.
When Shelburne agreed, Lowe delved further.
“Since September, the Lakers have been saying ‘we want to see what happens if that team craps the bed this season, what might shake loose.’ And you don’t have to be a brain surgeon to understand that in September, that meant DeRozan,” he said.
“The free agent who wasn’t. The free agent who almost was. And instead became Russ. The name that has become more interesting to me as the season has gone on and it’s become clearer and clearer that the Bulls are not gonna get it together is [Zach] LaVine.”
While LaVine is certainly an interesting prospect, several things make a DeRozan trade likelier.
“I think the Lakers would be among several teams that would be looking at LaVine,” Shelburne said.
“Teams that really need another playmaker, a guy who can score a guy that’s got some oomph to his game. Now he’s younger, but it’s just a lot of money…
“You don’t just take on a contract like that for a one-year deal, you’re committing to $200-plus million and that’s your guy for a long time. So I generally think deals like that don’t get done at the deadline. With that much money on the deal, it’s a hard one to do in the middle of the year.”
Unlike LaVine, DeRozan is in the middle of a three-year, $82 million contract. He is getting paid $27.3 million this year, $28.6 million next year, and then he is an unrestricted free agent.
The other complicating factor with LaVine is that at least two other NBA teams have very serious interest in him. DeRozan doesn’t.
May as well just put the Bengals in the Super Bowl now. https://t.co/gpfvvXvcpW
— Game 7 (@game7__) January 28, 2023
Obviously DeRozan isn’t the three-point specialist that the Lakers probably need, but he is an effective scorer who would take some offensive pressure off LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
And again, he proved last year that he could play at a truly top-tier level.
The Feb. 9 NBA Trade Deadline is rapidly approaching. Is a big deal for DeRozan brewing? Time will tell.