While many in the NBA community are celebrating the demise of the Los Angeles Lakers this season, reports suggest their season could've gone much differently. There's a world where they might've been able to pry DeMar DeRozan from the San Antonio Spurs after all.
Of course, reports and rumors are always to be taken with a grain of salt. Personally, I'm not sure Coach Gregg Popovich would've ever seriously considered sending his star to a conference rival. Still, some think otherwise.
On a recent episode of Brian Windhorst & The Hoop Collective, Windhorst sat down with ESPN's Bobby Marks to discuss Magic Johnson's recent comments. "DeRozan wanted to play for the Lakers," said Johnson on Get Up. "He could've been a Laker. We could've made that deal, but when Russell and LeBron start talking, that's when they nixed that deal and went with Westbrook."
First, Marks chimed in. "Getting DeRozan to Los Angeles would've required a sign and trade. [That] requires the cooperation of the team that you ended your season with. Once the Lakers did the Westbrook trade, any sign and trade with DeRozan and San Antonio went out the window. The second thing is I have a hard time believing that San Antonio was going to cooperate with the Lakers on a sign and trade."
Windhorst believes the Spurs might've played ball with LA
Windhorst, however, disagreed with that last point.
"From what I am told, San Antonio was interested in making a deal, but what they wanted and what the Lakers wanted -- it never got to that point. But as you know, Pop doesn't like the Lakers. I don't think he was going to make it easy, but I do think San Antonio would've done business."
As Bobby Marks later points out, the Spurs were comfortable with the package centered around Thaddeus Young and a couple of picks from Chicago, so they weren't exactly motivated to help the Lakers out unless a deal blew them away.
As we can all see by now, the way everything played out worked well for the Spurs and DeRozan while the Lakers will have to keep playing the what-if game.
As it currently stands, DeRozan helped the Bulls to a playoff spot with the league's 11th-best win share of 9.0 while Westbrook's win share figure sits at 1.7, just above that of Keita Bates-Diop. Whether the Lakers had a true shot at DeMar is irrelevant now, but it's going to much harder to recover from their disaster of a season with the money they gave to Russell.
Sometimes you get what you pay for. Sometimes you don't.