More often than not, when a player is mentioned in trade rumors, they decline to comment on them. That can be out of respect to their current team, or simply a desire not to engage in speculation, but chatter surrounding transactions is usually limited to third parties.
DeMar DeRozan appears to be an exception to that rule. The Lakers are reportedly interested in bringing in the SoCal native via a trade this offseason, and DeRozan is flattered by the attention. As he told Matt Barnes and Stephen Jackson on the All the Smoke podcast, DeRozan considers it an honor that the Lakers would want him on their team, especially since he dreamed of playing in the purple and gold as a kid:
“Without a doubt. You always have them dreams of doing it, you know what I mean? For me it’s just I’ve learned being in the league so long that you always want to be wanted... So when you see things about teams wanting you, you can’t feel a certain type of way. You’d better feel good about it because there’s some motherf---ers that’s not wanted. You don’t want to be that person.
“So to be wanted by a championship team that just came off a championship, to see that, how could you not feel some type of way? Especially me, being from L.A., it’s like ‘damn, my hometown team want me? They just came off a championship and they want me?’ It’s definitely crazy to be able to see that, but anybody knows that whatever jersey I got on, I’m gonna lay it out there on the line and represent in the best way I can.”
You can watch video of the exchange here:
It has to feel even more validating for DeRozan to have interest from the Lakers because he has habitually come up against LeBron James in the postseason, and it’s never ended well for him. For a James-led team to still believe that DeRozan has it in him to compete for a championship has to feel like a sign of respect.
DeRozan has previously acknowledged that it was hard to watch the Raptors win a title the year after he left, even though he was happy for his former teammates, because at times he felt that it was his fault they hadn’t won before. But being recruited by the team that just won the championship means that he still has something to offer; not being able to get past James in the playoffs doesn’t mean that DeRozan can’t perform on the biggest stage.
As someone who has been a life-long Laker fan, it’s hard not to get caught in DeRozan’s emotions about his career potentially coming full circle. To grow up in Los Angeles, play at USC, and then potentially play for the franchise that inspired you to become a professional basketball player has to be the ultimate dream come true, no matter what else DeRozan has accomplished in the NBA so far. At the end of the day, he’s human, and it’s perfectly reasonable to have more of an attachment to this team — the one that his favorite player Kobe Bryant played for — than others in the league. Of course he has thought about playing here and hanging up a banner in Staples Center.
The fit between DeRozan and the Lakers probably isn’t clean enough to justify this storybook ending, but it’s always nice to hear how other players around the NBA revere the Lakers and what this franchise has meant historically. These trade rumors are an ego boost for DeRozan, and his comments have returned the favor.