Toronto Raptors guard DeMar Derozan made headlines following the team's Eastern Conference Finals loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers when he shot down rumors that he was interested in playing anywhere else other than Toronto next season. The unrestricted free agent to be was previously reported to be one of the Los Angeles Lakers' targets this summer, but it seems DeRozan's lack of interest in a homecoming may be mutual.
"There's a lot of presumption about DeRozan and I'm told the Lakers aren't that high on him," Kevin Ding of Bleacher Report said on Bleacher Report Radio on Sunday morning, which makes sense for both sides.
For the Lakers, DeRozan doesn't necessarily solve any of their main issues and overlaps with some of the little talent they have on the team. For DeRozan, his hometown team can't offer as much money as Toronto and he would be leaving an Eastern Conference finalist for a team he may not even turn into a playoff contender for next season. Those around the Raptors say the second factor is important to him.
From @bruce_arthur with us @br_radio: "There's no chance for DeRozan to be a top 10 Laker of all-time...he values winning & legacy." #Raptors— Noah Coslov (@NoahCoslov) May 29, 2016
If DeRozan does want to win and build a legacy, Los Angeles offers him little opportunity to do either. The Lakers posted the second-worst record in the NBA last season, and their primary deficiencies were on the defensive side of the ball, an area DeRozan wouldn't help with much.
Despite DeRozan's Southern California ties, there are reasons to think his legacy would be aided much by such a move either. As Arthur pointed out, it's nearly impossible to picture DeRozan ever becoming known as one of the top Lakers ever, and there would be a lot of fan pressure on the isolation style scorer to take over as the franchise's next centerpiece following Kobe Bryant's retirement.
Instead, both sides will likely go their separate ways. The Lakers can use the money they would have had to give DeRozan to try and address larger areas of need like the center position while continuing their rebuild, and DeRozan can return to a team that just made a surprising run to the Eastern Conference's second-best record and a conference finals matchup with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Both will be better off for it.
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