The Los Angeles Lakers have not been ruled out as a potential DeMar DeRozan suitor, which is a surprise given their limited financial resources. There has been talk that DeRozan wants to play in L.A. so badly that he’s willing to give the Lakers a significant discount, but how realistic is that?
With the Lakers having acquired Russell Westbrook via a trade, the only way they could sign DeRozan is if the 31-year-old is willing to accept the taxpayer mid-level exception of $5.9 million. Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer reported in his column on Saturday that DeRozan is among a group of veterans who could “forgo higher salary opportunities elsewhere” to join the Lakers, but he later downplayed the possibility.
In a Saturday night podcast appearance with Alex Kennedy of BasketballNews.com, Fischer said he doubts DeRozan would sign with the Lakers for the mid-level exception:
“I think it’s fair that the mid-level is something that he might not be interested in. I’m trying to poke around on that situation and get some more concrete info, but right now, I can definitely say: I don’t think it’s a sure bet that DeMar is going to take that mid-level to go to Los Angeles. That was something that was heavily discussed and rumored the last week or so, but now it does not seem to be the case.”
DeRozan earned $27.7 million with the San Antonio Spurs this past season. He averaged 21.6 points and 6.9 assists per game. There is likely plenty of interest in him on the free-agent market at around that same salary, so it seems farfetched to expect him to give the Lakers a roughly $20 million discount.
If the main reason DeRozan wants to play for the Lakers is that he is from the L.A. area, we know of another team that may give him an opportunity to return home. He’d have to really be set on playing with LeBron James and company to take the mid-level exception at this stage of his career.