In a truly stunning tell-all interview with Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports, DeMar DeRozan revealed for the first time that he really wanted to be a Laker.
Yes, that was sarcasm.
DeRozan has never been one to shy away from expressing his desire to be a Laker (more on that in a bit) and on Monday after leading the Bulls to a win over the Lakers, he did speak with Haynes about how close he was to coming home to Los Angeles this summer. And it was really close!
Haynes piece mentions that DeRozan and LeBron James spoke multiple times this offseason — and he was not the only person Haynes has reported that LeGM tried to recruit this summer — and DeRozan’s agent Aaron Goodwin had worked to manufacture a sign-and-trade that would have sent him to Los Angeles. Based on reports from Marc Stein at the time, the deal would have likely centered on Kyle Kuzma and DeRozan.
But the Lakers pivoted to a different Los Angeles native in Russell Westbrook, opting to bring him home instead. DeRozan says that blocked his path back to Los Angeles (via Yahoo Sports):
“I felt like going to the Lakers was a done deal and that we were going to figure it out. I was going to come home. The business side of things just didn’t work out. A couple of things didn’t align. It didn’t work out. It’s just part of the business, part of the game. My next option was definitely Chicago. So, looking back at it, it worked out well.
Hilariously, Haynes also mentions that the Lakers and Spurs were working on a sign and trade for DeRozan before free agency, aka the same thing that the Bulls are about to get punished by the NBA for doing with Lonzo Ball and the Pelicans. Haynes specifically noting Goodwin as the one working “feverishly” might be enough to protect the teams, but it’s still an incredible nugget.
DeRozan’s time in Chicago is going much more swimmingly early on than Westbrook’s in Los Angeles, with the former averaging 26.9 points per game after back-to-back 30-point games in his returns to Los Angeles to play the Clippers and Lakers this week.
But DeRozan has made no secret of his desire to play in Los Angeles and for the Lakers. Not just this summer, but for years and years. At seemingly any opportunity, he’ll mention wanting to play for the Lakers.
In fact, here’s a list of DeRozan’s links to the Lakers, sorted chronologically:
- Nov. 15, 2021 - DeRozan says joining the Lakers “almost happened” during the offseason.
- Oct. 18, 2021 - In an interview with Draymond Green on Bleacher Report, DeRozan says he wanted to come home this summer.
- Oct. 9, 2021 — DeRozan tells Shams Charania of The Athletic it would have been a “hell of an opportunity” to play with the Lakers this season.
- July 31, 2021 - Brad Turner of the Los Angeles Times reports that DeRozan had his “sights set” on joining the Lakers but he wouldn’t take a “significant” pay cut after the team traded for Westbrook.
- July 26, 2021 - DeRozan tells Shannon Sharpe of Fox Sports 1 that it would be a “great opportunity” to come to Los Angeles and play with Anthony Davis and James.
- July 23, 2021 - Brad Turner of the Los Angeles Times reports that DeRozan is willing to take a pay cut to join the Lakers.
- Nov. 13, 2020 - On the “All The Smoke” podcast, DeRozan says he was honored to be linked in trade talks with the Lakers.
- Nov. 23, 2016 - DeRozan reveals that it was hard to say no to the Lakers during free agency before returning to the Raptors in an interview with Marc Spears of The Undefeated.
- July 23, 2016 - In an interview with Mark Medina, then of the Los Angeles Daily News, DeRozan says that joining the Lakers was something that would “cross your mind” as an L.A. native.
- June 30, 2016 - The Lakers were among the teams to meet with DeRozan in free agency, according to Haynes.
- May 29, 2016 - Per a report by Kevin Ding of Bleacher Report, the Lakers are “aren’t that high” on DeRozan.
As you can see, it’s often a one-way street, with DeRozan (and his camp) seemingly telling any media outlet willing to ask about how much he wants to join the Lakers. That isn’t to suggest the interest hasn’t been there from the Lakers side, as it clearly was this offseason, for example.
But DeRozan also really, really wants everyone to know that he really would like to come to Los Angeles to play basketball. Considering DeRozan’s deal with Chicago was for three years and worth $81 million, it’s next to impossible to imagine the Lakers acquiring that contract before its end.
At that point, in 2024, DeRozan will be 35. But while we won’t know for sure how his game will have aged at that point, there is one thing we can safely predict with near certainty: That summer, and maybe in the lead-up to it, DeRozan will be talking about coming home to the Lakers.