NBA

DeMar DeRozan Can Help LeBron James and the Lakers now and Next Summer

The LA Lakers are fresh off winning their 17th NBA title, which has shifted their gears toward competing for another championship. All that has quickly linked the Lakers to a possible trade rumor involving DeMar DeRozan. The move has an opportunity to help LeBron James and LA now and possibly down the road.

Lakers’ big offseason ahead

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The LA Lakers reached the mountaintop for the first time in a decade after LeBron James and Anthony Davis guided the franchise to a championship.

With that monumental achievement starting to hit the backburners, the Lakers have some crucial questions to answer this offseason. LA has several key role players potentially hitting the open market.

Rajon Rondo and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope are both expected to decline their player options for next season. Rondo is already drawing interest from the LA Clippers, while reports have surfaced around the Atlanta Hawks expressing interest in Caldwell-Pope.

Dwight Howard will also hit free agency after completing his one-year, $2.5 million deal. The Golden State Warriors have been rumored to have a desire to pursue him in free agency. The Lakers have other role players such as Avery Bradley ($5 million) and JaVale McGee ($4.2 million), who have decisions to make with their player options for next year.

Beyond that, the Lakers have already made their intentions known about another possible game-changing move.

Lakers are interested in trade for DeMar DeRozan

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LeBron James and the Lakers are in a promising position to contend for another NBA title, but the challenges next season may be much more daunting.

All that has already pushed the Lakers to consider several scenarios of acquiring proven talent to the mix. According to Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer, LA has reached out to the San Antonio Spurs to express interest in acquiring former All-Star guard DeMar DeRozan.

“They’re also looking to unload LaMarcus Aldridge and DeMar DeRozan; I’ve heard the Lakers have interest in acquiring DeRozan (for Kyle Kuzma and Danny Green)”

The Lakers don’t have much salary-cap space to utilize to make a deal work, requiring them to offload nearly matching salaries. Danny Green is in the second year of his two-year, $30 million deal that will pay him $15.3 million. Meanwhile, Kyle Kuzma is due roughly $3.5 million in the fourth year of his rookie deal.

Green has already voiced that he anticipates that he will be thrown into trade talks. Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich previously spoke highly of Kuzma during their brief experience with Team USA last year.

DeRozan may not be a dependable 3-point shooter (28.2% career), but he’s a proven scorer averaging 20.0 career points per game. The 31-year-old is also in the last year of his five-year, $139 million deal that will pay him $27.7 million. His contract will further provide the Lakers financial flexibility for the much-anticipated 2021 free-agent class.

LA is eyeing 2021 free agency class

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What this rumor around DeMar DeRozan speaks to more intently is the LA Lakers’ interest in keeping their salary-cap space wide open for next summer.

The Lakers put that plan in place with their two-year deals to several players last offseason. LeBron James can also enter free agency if he opts out of his contract. That isn’t to say James will leave LA after the 2020-21 campaign, but rather that the team can rework deals with him involved to put together another championship-caliber squad.

The expectation is for players such as Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, Mike Conley Jr., Jrue Holiday, Rudy Gobert, and Kyle Lowry, and potentially Chris Paul will be available. General manager Rob Pelinka has already publicly acknowledged the franchise’s desire to be a significant factor in that class.

The Lakers have their sights set on competing for a second straight title with LeBron James while setting themselves up for next summer.