The Lakers’ bold offseason move was bringing Russell Westbrook from Washington in a trade that helped remake the Lakers’ roster.
But if it hadn’t been Westbrook, might it have been DeMar DeRozan in Lakers colors?
The former Raptor and Spur said he spoke with LeBron James and the Lakers about joining them this offseason during a conversation with Shams Charania of The Athletic.
New Bulls star DeMar DeRozan sits down with @Stadium: “I haven’t played with a talent at that wing position like Zach (LaVine). I want to put everything I’ve been through in my career, share that with him, win together.” Also: Lakers, disrespect in free agency, being more vocal. pic.twitter.com/3dWWSZY5PC
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) October 8, 2021
“[Talks with LeBron/Lakers] was great, honestly. Tried to make it work. Had plenty of conversation with Bron. Tried to make it work. Just didn’t work. You know how the business go. One thing can just change the whole dynamic and everything, but it was a hell of an opportunity that we tried to make happen. Me being from L.A., would have been crazy, but some things just didn’t work out, but it’s always great just to have the opportunity.”
What likely didn’t work out is the Lakers jumped at the chance to get Westbrook, and when they did there was no cap space to bring in DeRozan as a free agent (or young players left on the roster to make a sign-and-trade with the Spurs work). Even if the Westbrook trade hadn’t come along, the Lakers were much closer to a trade for Buddy Hield in Sacramento than DeRozan.
DeRozan would have been an interesting fit in L.A. but presented some of the same concerns on the Lakers roster that Westbrook does — he doesn’t really space the floor (although DeRozan is a much better midrange shooter than Westbrook). Neither are great defenders. Westbrook brings more pace and athleticism in the open court; DeRozan is more dangerous in the halfcourt because of his shot.
It all worked out for DeRozan, who signed a three-year, $85 million deal with the Chicago Bulls, part of a remaking of that roster that has its own questions about fit.