Lakers Rumors: Spurs Had Interest in DeMar DeRozan Offseason Sign-and-Trade with LA

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVApril 5, 2022

CHICAGO, IL - MARCH 31: DeMar DeRozan #11 of the Chicago Bulls shoots a free throw during the game against the LA Clippers on March 31, 2022 at United Center in Chicago, Illinois. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2022 NBAE (Photo by Jeff Haynes/NBAE via Getty Images)
Jeff Haynes/NBAE via Getty Images

The San Antonio Spurs may not have been a roadblock to the Los Angeles Lakers if they pursued a sign-and-trade for DeMar DeRozan last summer.

ESPN's Brian Windhorst reported on his Hoop Collective podcast that San Antonio was "interested in making a deal." However, he added at the 5:10 mark that what the Spurs would've preferred to get back from the deal may have differed from what the Lakers would've offered.

That the Lakers had a shot to acquire DeRozan isn't revelatory.

Last November, the Compton, California, native told Yahoo Sports' Chris Haynes he thought he was going to enjoy a homecoming:

"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."

Instead, failing to sign DeRozan is among the many what-ifs for the Lakers' 2021-22 season.

The 32-year-old has been excellent with the Chicago Bulls, averaging a career-high 28.0 points per game and shooting a personal-best 35.5 percent from three-point range. His presence would've been invaluable for Los Angeles, which has seen LeBron James and Anthony Davis miss time because of injuries.

Lakers legend Magic Johnson went on ESPN's Get Up and said he thought LeBron James deserves some blame for DeRozan winding up in Chicago. Johnson hypothesized that opting for DeRozan instead of Russell Westbrook would've allowed the team to retain Alex Caruso and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.

But assuming he got something similar to his three-year, $81.9 million deal with the Bulls, it's not as simple as slotting DeRozan into what was effectively last year's roster.

ESPN's Bobby Marks noted on the podcast that L.A. likely would've been approaching the hard cap with the sign-and-trade, so re-signing Caruso wasn't quite so straightforward. Marks also explained how sending any trade assets to the Spurs might've taken a hypothetical trade for Buddy Hield off the table as well.

There are a number of reasons the Lakers could potentially miss out on the play-in tournament altogether, and plenty of blame lays at the feet of the front office. 

When it comes to DeRozan, though, it's slightly unfair to ignore the wider personnel implications of what his arrival would've meant.