Things are finally, mercifully looking up for the Los Angeles Lakers. They didn't have to forfeit their first-round pick, got their first coaching option in Luke Walton and are well on their way to getting a third young star to build around.
LSU's Ben Simmons or Duke's Brandon Ingram will likely suit up in purple and gold next season. The Philadelphia 76ers have the option of selecting either of the draft's top two players, an unenviable situation that's flummoxed draft aficionados all season. The Lakers get to sit back, watch Philly sweat and then pluck the satisfied leftover.
Still, this is the Lakers. If you'll allow a double negative here, there's never not something going on behind the scenes at Staples Center. The Lakers are understandably tired of scrounging at the NBA's bottom barrel and are finally unshackled from the final few Kobe Bryant years. They're legitimately a franchise on the rise, finally attractive to free agents after being a superficial contender for the game's biggest names.
With that in mind, let's take a look at the latest offseason buzz from Los Angeles.
Lakers Expected to Offer DeRozan Megadeal
The DeMar DeRozan-to-Los Angeles rumors are far from new. It's not even that hard to draw a through line and create the connection before you get to legitimate sources. DeRozan grew up a Lakers fan in Compton, California, before playing his college ball at USC. He plays for a Raptors franchise that's more famous for losing stars than retaining them.
The Lakers have a vacancy at shooting guard and max-level cap room. DeRozan just happens to be the type of polarizing player Toronto has to consider cutting bait with if the price gets too high. He's a free-throw hound and an improved defender, but he chucks up a disconcerting number of bad mid-range jumpers and has a strong affinity for hero ball.
In some ways, it'd be legitimate to call him a broke man's Prime Kobe. Michael Grange of Sportsnet noted the similarities while also saying the Lakers plan to "offer him the moon" to make a return home.
For his part, DeRozan's saying he wants to stay in Toronto.
"My mindset has always been Toronto. I've always preached it," DeRozan said, per Mike Mazzeo of ESPN.com. "I was passionate about it when we were losing, when we were terrible. I said I was going to stick through this whole thing, and I want to be that guy who brings this organization to where it is now. I definitely don't want to switch that up after we win."
The Lakers should hope Toronto gets sucked in by its mirage Eastern Conference Finals appearance. DeRozan is not a max player—especially when that number could push him close to $30 million per season. His inefficient style falls apart at times against elite defenses, and he's shown no real ability to stretch his game beyond the three-point line.
At a certain price, DeRozan's a good fit and a fine player. That price is not $25 million. It's probably not even $20 million. Signing him would be a sign the Lakers are more interested in names on the marquee than building a cogent roster.
Brian Shaw to Be Lead Assistant on Walton's Staff?
Another far-from-new rumor that's become inevitable: Brian Shaw will join Luke Walton's staff next season. Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times reported on May 21 that the two parties were close to an agreement, which would mark a homecoming for the 50-year-old.
Shaw began his coaching career with the Lakers from 2005-11. He was actually Bryant's choice to replace Phil Jackson all the way back in 2011, per The Undefeated's Marc J. Spears, writing then for Yahoo Sports. That job ultimately went to Mike Brown, who lasted all of 71 games. Brown is the last Lakers head coach with a winning record.
Shaw left the organization for the Pacers after being passed over, serving under Frank Vogel in Indiana for two seasons before coaching the Denver Nuggets. Denver went 56-85 during Shaw's tenure from 2013-2015, during which time he developed a reputation as someone who coached to scheme rather than personnel. His broken relationship with Ty Lawson was representative of his polarizing reputation in the locker room.
Shaw and Walton have a relationship leftover from the latter's playing days. It's fair to wonder if bringing such a popular L.A. face back is the smartest move, but it's clear the Lakers and Walton want someone with head coaching experience on his bench.
I would have made calls to a few other guys before Shaw, but their pre-existing relationship means this is a workable solution.