clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

If Chicago blows it up, could Lakers trade Russell Westbrook for DeMar DeRozan?

The Lakers have been clear on what kind of player they would prefer to use both first round picks at their disposal for. DeMar DeRozan meets those requirements, but would he help more than a few better-fitting role players?

If you buy something from an SB Nation link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

It’s an oversimplification, but a real fork in the road moment for the Lakers was when they opted to trade for Russell Westbrook over DeMar DeRozan. There is more involved and Magic Johnson’s retelling of the story is legitimately hilarious in how impossible what he claimed he wanted to do, but in the years since the trade, all parties can’t help but wonder how different things would be if Rob Pelinka had a mulligan.

Just a day or so ago, Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report offered up that apparently the Lakers are interested in DeMar DeRozan and Nikola Vucevic. From what I’ve been told, heading into the season, the Lakers had their eye on the Chicago and a big part of the reason for their 20-game waiting period was to see how things went in the hopes that maybe they’d have another shot at landing the L.A. native who can’t seem to stop talking about how close he came to playing for his hometown team.

There is plenty of reporting on the caliber of player the Lakers would move both picks for and hey look at that, DeRozan played in last year’s all star game and finished the season with Second-Team All-NBA honors. Pelinka has made it pretty clear his top priority is talent and then demands his coaches get the pieces to fit, so frankly, it’s pretty easy to buy the reporting on this situation.

Thing is, though: Fit matters. How the Lakers have not learned this lesson despite the entire Westbrook experience is pretty insane. But it’s what happens when those who make crippling mistakes aren’t held accountable — they tend to repeat those blunders. Pelinka was rewarded with a contract extension for his.

DeRozan is iffy on defense, doesn’t space the floor, and needs the ball in his hands to be effective. Westbrook is iffy on defense, doesn’t space the floor, and needs the ball in his hands to be effective. We’ve seen this movie! It doesn’t need a sequel!

Vucevic has also made an All Star Game but him in a playoff series where the opposing team gets to pick on him for seven games won’t end well either. Perhaps he’d look a little better defensively next to LeBron James and Anthony Davis, but in all likelihood, he wouldn’t be in the Lakers’ best five-man lineups.

We know how the Lakers operate. They’ve fallen victim to their own reputation as the team of stars and, despite WINNING A LITERAL CHAMPIONSHIP BECAUSE OF THE PRODUCTION OF SOLID ROLE PLAYERS AROUND LEBRON JAMES AND ANTHONY DAVIS, are one again on the hunt for a third star, fit be damned. DeRozan may check a lot of boxes that appear to matter to the Lakers, but it’s well past time to rewrite the checklist.

In all honesty, I’d rather gamble on Lonzo Ball’s knees and try to pry Alex Caruso back from Chicago instead of acquiring Vucevic and even then, I think the Lakers are probably better off breaking up the dispersal of picks to try to bring in a few more role players who actually fill needs. Bojan Bogdanovic, Kyle Kuzma, Cam Reddish, Myles Turner, Buddy Hield and others come to mind. But if DeRozan is made available, the Lakers chasing the star is probably the safe bet — even if it’s a remake of a movie no one really liked the first time around.

All of this is still dependent on the Bulls blowing it up, though, and today on “The Anthony Irwin Show,” I welcomed Ricky O’Donnell of SB Nation to discuss the likelihood of it happening. He doesn’t see it, so stay strong, Chicago. you got this.

You can listen to the full episode below, and to make sure you never miss a show, subscribe to the Silver Screen and Roll podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, or Google Podcasts.

And for a short-form recap pod, check out Lakers Lowdown, in which Anthony Irwin recaps the previous day’s news and gets you ready for the day ahead in LakerLand, every weekday morning on the Silver Screen & Roll Podcast feed.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the Silver Screen & Roll Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of Los Angeles Lakers news from Silver Screen & Roll