Lakers trade rumors: Why Los Angeles has interest in Spurs’ DeMar DeRozan

The Lakers are only a month removed from winning the 2020 NBA championship, but they are already searching for ways to improve their roster ahead of the new season.

Los Angeles is interested in acquiring Spurs guard DeMar DeRozan, according to The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor, who reports Danny Green and Kyle Kuzma could be sent to San Antonio in a potential trade. While the Lakers and Spurs don’t appear to be close to finalizing a DeRozan deal at the moment, adding the four-time All-Star could be a smart move for LA.

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DeRozan is a certified bucket. He has averaged at least 20 points per game in seven consecutive seasons, and he is an elite one-on-one scorer. In 2019-20, DeRozan was among the best isolation players in the NBA at 1.13 points per possession, a better mark than James Harden and Damian Lillard.

Concerns about DeRozan’s efficiency and shot selection are fair. He finished in the top five in field goal attempts from both 10-14 feet and 15-19 feet. He took 35 total 3-pointers last season — the Bulls averaged that many 3-point attempts per game. DeRozan has been practicing social distancing from the arc for quite some time.

However, it’s not as though Green and Kuzma were lighting the world on fire last season, especially in the 2020 playoffs. DeRozan’s ability to create for himself and others (5.9 assists per game as a member of the Spurs) may outweigh whatever level of shooting Los Angeles loses in the transaction. The Lakers could use another offensive weapon to deploy when LeBron James and Anthony Davis aren’t sharing the floor, which could be a frequent occurrence if James decides he is going to rest for a portion of the season.

As for the other end of the floor, DeRozan’s limitations as a defender could be covered by coach Frank Vogel’s scheme and Davis’ rim protection. Plus, with Davis and James flying around and giving maximum effort, the Lakers could see a motivated DeRozan accept the challenge on that end and at least be competent defensively.

Assuming he accepts his $27.7 million player option, DeRozan would also keep the Lakers’ cap sheet clear ahead of free agency in 2021. This isn’t a Russell Westbrook situation with a massive salary limiting Los Angeles’ flexibility.

Lakers fans may be clamoring for 3-and-D guys ahead of the 2020 NBA Draft and free agency. DeRozan is very much not that player. Despite his flaws, though, he could give Los Angeles a different element that helps the champs defend their title.

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