It may be hard to remember, but in normal times the vast majority of NBA Free Agency, which typically begins on July 1, would have come and gone by now. Alas, in this COVID-delayed season and the Finals just now beginning, it’s still nearly a month away, but that isn’t keeping the rumor mill from churning.
The latest is one that probably isn’t surprising: the Lakers are reportedly interested in San Antonio Spurs free agent DeMar DeRozan, according to sports analyst Evan Massey:
The #Lakers do have interest in pursuing DeMar DeRozan this offseason in free agency, source tells @HoopAnalysisNet. A sign-and-trade for him would be necessary and very doable for L.A.— Evan Massey (@massey_evan) July 6, 2021
As Massey notes, because they lack the cap space to sign him directly, the Lakers’ only real option outside him signing a mega hometown discount (as in the veteran’s minimum or mid-level exception, if the Lakers even have that available) would be a sign-and-trade. This is where the Spurs could benefit if DeRozan chooses to sign elsewhere.
The Spurs technically have until August 1 to work out a contract extension with DeRozan before he becomes an unrestricted free agent, in which they can add an additional fours years, $149.1 million to his contract, with a starting salary of $33.3 million for the 2021-22 season. While DeRozan has never ruled out returning to the Spurs, he as stated that he’s interested in exploring free agency. Also, while the Spurs remain vague over what their plans for the future are, it’s hard to imagine they are ready to commit that much money to a 32-year-old who hasn’t led them beyond the first round of playoffs.
That being said, it’s hard to imagine the Lakers aren’t a desired destination for him. It’s basically the hometown team for the Compton native, and it presents him with one of the better opportunities he’ll get to win a championship, so there might be some room for negotiation between the three parties here. Coming up with actual trade scenarios is both not my forte and a topic for another day, but what do you guys think about possibly working out a sign-and-trade to send DeRozan to the Lakers? Fee free to discuss in the comments below.