LOS ANGELES – DeMar DeRozan had several conversations with LeBron James in the offseason. His agent, Aaron Goodwin, worked feverishly behind the scenes with the San Antonio Spurs’ front office to obtain detailed information on what would have been a sign-and-trade package to send the 13-year-old free agent veteran to his hometown team. Los Angeles Lakers.
DeRozan, 32, thought everyone was on the same page, but the Lakers quietly began exploring a different route when Russell Westbrook was made available in Washington.
Talks between the Lakers and Spurs fell off. As he read the tea leaves, Goodwin turned his client in the direction of the Chicago Bulls.
There was minimal debate internally among the Lakers’ brass about which player would fit right in, but there were not enough key backers for DeRozan. Westbrook was acquired on the day of the 2021 NBA Draft.
On Monday in DeRozan’s first game against the Lakers this season, he got purple and gold to pay to brush him to the side.
“I felt it was a done deal to go to the Lakers and that we would find out. I was going to come home,” DeRozan told Yahoo Sports after scoring 38 points to lead the Bulls to a 121-103 victory at the Staples Center. “The business side of things just did not work. A few things did not work out. It did not work out. It’s just part of the business, part of the game. My next option was definitely Chicago. So looking back on it, it succeeded well.
“But there is always motivation. It can be just coming home and playing in front of friends and family and competing against teams you grew up watching. There are all sorts of motivations you carry and you try to channel it energy into the game. I find that in every match, but definitely when you return to your hometown, you want to play well and you have the motivation to deliver a great show. “
The Bulls have been one of the hottest teams in the league through the early part of the season. With 10-4, they are in second place in the Eastern Conference and a half behind the Wizards with top seed. DeRozan has an average of 26.9 points per game. match, the third highest grade in the league. He also shoots career-high 37.1% from beyond the 3-point arc.
Meanwhile in Laker Land, Westbrook’s transition home has been a struggle. The Lakers are 8-7 with the former MVP shooting 42.7% from the field and turning the ball around at an alarming rate of 5.3 per. competition, which is a personal and league high.
Preliminary results suggest the Lakers may have played wrong.
“Nah, Russ is a Hall of Fame player,” DeRozan told Yahoo Sports. “It’s hard to dismiss that caliber of players. I can not speak for the Lakers, but they went with what they felt was best for them. And all respect for them. No hard feelings. No enmity, but I just look at it “as part of the game. A deal is never made until it’s done. I learned that. I just did not succeed. I’m just glad I’m in Chicago.”
The Lakers were not the only team in town that felt DeRozan’s dominance. The night before, the DeRozan Clippers lit up a game-high 35 points with seven rebounds and five assists in a 100-90 victory. The Clippers drove on DeRozan under free agency and he almost took a meeting with the front office but they lacked cap space to come up with a serious offer.
“They did not have much, but it was a conversation that was brought on the field and it did not reach as far as the Lakers’ situation,” DeRozan told Yahoo Sports. “Both LA teams were definitely a great opportunity for me.”
DeRozan has not joined the All-Star team since the Toronto Raptors traded him to San Antonio in the summer of 2018. Despite three strong seasons with the Spurs, where his assist numbers increased, he went largely unnoticed. At this rate, he is a virtual lock – along with teammate Zach LaVine – to become the All-Star team for the fifth time in his career.
In the end, it looks like DeRozan is in a better situation. The Lakers are one of the league’s biggest disappointments so far. And after Monday’s game, Laker fans left the arena disappointed that the 6-foot-7 wing was not on their side.
“To be honest with you, I’m never telling this to anyone, but I’m just trying to be an inspiration to people who are told they can do nothing or that they’re not good anymore,” DeRozan said. to Yahoo Sports. “Never let a story deter your self-confidence or belief in yourself from falling victim to someone else’s story. Just keep working, trust your work ethic, trust timing, and keep hope and faith in yourself, and everything will resolve it. It’s just the way I intervene in life. Just keep going, keep pushing and don’t add anything to the negative things people say or write. Keep going. “