Rumors shed light on Lakers' true chances of landing DeMar DeRozan

DeMar DeRozan has spoken candidly about his interest in playing for the Los Angeles Lakers, but how realistic are the odds of him ending up in the purple and gold?
Los Angeles Lakers v Chicago Bulls
Los Angeles Lakers v Chicago Bulls / Michael Reaves/GettyImages

The Los Angeles Lakers are entering free agency with limited options and an understanding that trades will play a role in any attempt to improve the roster. An abundance of trade rumors have already surfaced, with Los Angeles being linked to almost everyone of significance.

One player has openly acknowledged their desire to play for the Lakers, however, and it's a multi-time All-Star whom the organization has been linked to in the past.

DeMar DeRozan, 34, will enter unrestricted free agency this summer. After a nine-year stint with the Toronto Raptors and a three-year run with the San Antonio Spurs, he's stepped up as the go-to clutch scorer for the Chicago Bulls since 2021.

In an appearance on FanDuel TV's Run It Back, DeRozan was candid about the fact that he can never say never about potentially playing for his hometown Lakers.

"When I was a kid, everybody knows I'm a Kobe guy at the end of the day. Always been a Kobe guy, been a Lakers fan since day one. You can't never say no about playing home, especially for a historic team like the Lakers. Time will tell, we'll see where the cards fall."

Unfortunately for any potential Lakers interest, Michael Scotto of Hoops Hype has reported that the the Lakers aren't the only team in Los Angeles that DeRozan could end up with this summer.

" team worth monitoring as a potential suitor for DeRozan via sign-and-trade is the Los Angeles Clippers, should the franchise fail to re-sign Paul George in free agency, HoopsHype has learned."

The Los Angeles Clippers may ultimately have more resources to pursue a DeRozan acquisition than the Lakers.

In saying that, in terms of Los Angeles' options in free agency, DeRozan is certainly among the most decorated of the group. He's a six-time All-Star who has earned that honor as recently as 2021-22 and 2022-23, as well as a three-time All-NBA honoree who earned All-NBA Second Team recognition in 2021-22.

DeRozan hardly took a step back in 2023-24, as he averaged 24.0 points, 5.3 assists, 4.3 rebounds, and 1.1 steals on .480/.333/.853 shooting.

In addition to leading the Bulls in both points and assists, DeRozan helped Chicago mount a remarkable turnaround. After starting the season at 9-16 and losing All-Star scorer Zach LaVine after just 25 appearances, the Bulls went 30-27 over their final 57 games.

The rise of Coby White played a significant role in the success that helped Chicago reach the Play-In Tournament, but it was DeRozan who routinely thrived as the closer.

DeRozan finished the 2023-24 regular season ranked No. 1 in the Association in's definition of clutch scoring. He was also fifth in fourth quarter scoring, trailing just LeBron James, Giannis Antetokounmpo, De'Aaron Fox, and Trae Young.

Considering the fact that James is soon to turn 40, adding DeRozan would mean giving him a powerful form of relief in terms of late-game scoring.

The obvious hurdles to a potential DeRozan signing are cost and age. As mentioned, James is soon to be 40. Anthony Davis, meanwhile, is 31. As such, adding a 34-year-old scorer doesn't exactly fit a long-term vision.

Furthermore, DeRozan is one of the top free agents in a relatively thin class, meaning he'll likely be priced out of what the Lakers can afford this summer—and a more feasible target for the Clippers.

A sign-and-trade is a possibility, but the Lakers would be remiss to give up some of their limited assets to acquire a player who's near the end of their prime. In saying that, it's always possible that DeRozan would take an extreme discount to return home and try to win his first NBA championship.

Regardless of how it plays out, one simply can't help but be intrigued by the possibility of a decorated player who grew up a Lakers fan one day suiting up in the purple and gold.

The rumor mill simply suggests that it won't be the Arena that DeRozan calls home if he returns to Los Angeles.