DeMar DeRozan went on Shannon Sharpe’s “Club Shay Shay” podcast and talked about his upcoming free agency. Shannon, obviously a big LeBron fan and a Laker fan, was openly recruiting DeRozan and asking him all sorts of questions about a potential move to the purple and gold.
In this video clip, he asks him about his priorities as a free agent, i.e. maximizing his salary vs. competing for a championship:
DeMar said it’s all about winning a championship. Obviously he’s not going to take the veteran minimum to play for the Lakers because everyone knows he’s worth a lot more than that, but he did say that while he doesn’t want to completely neglect the salary aspect, he’s really focused on winning a championship.
Shannon also asked him about whether he’d be able to make it work with LeBron and AD, and DeMar said he thinks they’d be able to figure it out. He pointed to the Brooklyn Nets, with three of the best scorers in the league, making it work. It sounds like DeRozan is not concerned about joining a team that already has LeBron and AD.
Finally, in this clip, DeMar was asked about playing in Los Angeles, his hometown, and for the team he grew up rooting for, the Lakers:
He basically says, yeah, of course I’ve always wanted to play for the Lakers.
It sounds like DeMar DeRozan really wants to team up with LeBron and AD. He said he’d love to come home, he’d take less money to do so, and most importantly, he thinks it would work with the three of them on the same team.
He’s making it pretty damn obvious here. He’s telling the Lakers, “Come get me. Let’s make it happen.”
So how can the Lakers make it happen?
In terms of salary, the Lakers would ideally get DeRozan to sign on a taxpayer mid-level exception contract, which is like $5 million. This would mean the Lakers don’t get hard-capped. If they signed him on the non-taxpayer mid-level exception, which is like $10 million, they would then be hard-capped.
But both options would mean DeRozan is taking a massive pay cut to play for the Lakers: he made $27 million this past season with the Spurs.
Getting hard-capped is something the Lakers really want to avoid. It means they cannot spend a dime more than $143 million on their roster this season, and they already have well over $100 million committed to LeBron, AD, Kuzma, KCP and Marc Gasol, plus Trezz has a $9.7mil player option he’s expected to pick up. Plus, they also owe Alfonso McKinnie about $2mil and they have to pay Luol Deng $5mil even though he hasn’t played a game for them since 2018 (explained in greater detail here).
Now obviously the Lakers could move KCP and Kuzma, who are each making about $13 million, and clear up some serious space. But still, they have a lot of empty roster spots right now and not a lot of cap space available. They’re going to have to get crafty with their spending this off-season. They’re able to go into the luxury tax and spend over the salary cap figure so long as they don’t trigger the hard cap, and there are three ways to trigger a hard cap: the non-taxpayer mid-level exception, as we went over before; doing a sign-and-trade; and using the bi-annual exception, but this is not available to them since, as the name indicates, you can only do it once every two years and they already used theirs on Wesley Matthews last offseason.
There’s also the possibility of a sign-and-trade with the Spurs to get DeRozan, but again, the triggers the hard cap and the Lakers want to avoid that. I don’t know the full logistics of how it would work in terms of the salary cap and all that–the NBA’s cap is pretty complicated with all the exceptions and the luxury tax, etc.–but it does seem like DeMar DeRozan is willing to sacrifice a lot to play for the Lakers.
The Lakers would be smart to also add some shooting–Buddy Hield is a great option that they’ve expressed some interest in reportedly–but DeRozan would be a very nice addition for the Lakers.