The interest between San Antonio Spurs unrestricted free agent DeMar DeRozan and the Los Angeles Lakers has continued to build when in an interview on Shannon Sharpe’s show Monday, he confirmed he’s looking to join a title contender this offseason. In it, he said he’d be open to joining the Los Angeles Lakers.
Tom Osborn of the San Antonio Express-News had the quotes:
DeMar when asked on @ClubShayShay what he'll be looking for as a FA: "It's all about winning, going into my 13th season, seeing all these guys competing for a championship…I've been fortunate to make a lot of $, but the ultimate goal is to always compete for a championship."
— Tom Orsborn (@tom_orsborn) July 26, 2021
DeMar on @ClubShayShay about possibly returning home to play for the Lakers:
"I mean growing up, you can't ask no kid if they want to play home, they’ll say no. At some point, you definitely want that opportunity, especially if they want you. Why not? It's a great opportunity."
— Tom Orsborn (@tom_orsborn) July 26, 2021
As we’ve written about lately, for DeRozan and the Lakers to work on a deal together in free agency, there are three routes they can take:
- DeRozan signs with the Lakers using their mid-level exception, which would be a significant pay cut from the low of $26 million he’s projected to get in free agency.
- DeRozan and the Lakers can see if the Spurs would work on a sign-and-trade agreement once free agency begins.
- This would be the most difficult route, but the Lakers could try to trade multiple players without taking salary back to open some cap space.
Let’s explore in more detail routes 1 and 2.
How much can the Lakers offer without a sign-and-trade?
Assuming Montrezl Harrell exercises his $9.7 million player option, the most the Lakers can offer DeRozan as a tax team is the $5.9 million taxpayer exception, which would allow the Lakers to try to re-sign some of their own free agents. But, would DeRozan be willing to go from possibly a contract of $26 million salary to $5.9 million?
The Lakers could offer DeRozan the non-taxpayer mid-level exception of $9.5 million, but then that would hard cap the Lakers for the remainder of the season. This means the Lakers would have LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Kyle Kuzma, Harrell, DeRozan, Marc Gasol, and the 22nd pick, but would have to let all free agents walk and basically fill out the rest of the roster with players on minimum deals. They’d also never be allowed to cross the $143 million hard cap for the rest of the season.
Again though, would DeRozan be willing to sign for $9.5 million when his contract projection is $26 million?
The Sign-and-trade option
For a sign-and-trade deal to work, there has to be agreement from three parties: the free agent (DeRozan), the team acquiring the player (the Lakers), and the team signing and trading the player (the Spurs).
Keep in mind the team that acquires the free agent (the Lakers in this instance), would be hard-capped for the remainder of the season, meaning they can never cross the $143 million hard cap for the rest of the season as they fill out their roster.
Let’s use a hypothetical sign-and-trade here, and let’s say the Spurs agree to sign-and-trade DeRozan to the Lakers for $15 million and then in return, the Lakers send Kyle Kuzma and whoever they draft with the 22nd pick Thursday.
The Lakers’ outlook in this deal: The Lakers would be adding DeRozan for $15 million in year one of the new deal while having to fill out the rest of the roster being $15.1 million from hitting the hard cap. That would leave them with six players on the roster and still needing to fill out six more roster spots, never crossing the hard cap.
The Spurs’ outlook in this deal: The Spurs would acquire Kuzma ($13 million) and whoever is drafted with the 22nd pick ($2.5 million) and still have $35.4 million in salary cap space if they wanted to send a max offer sheet to John Collins.
Regarding the 22nd pick in this deal, the Spurs would have to take whoever the Lakers draft at 22nd Thursday. This type of deal cannot be made public until after free agency begins. Last year the Milwaukee Bucks weren’t allowed to go through with a sign-and-trade with the Kings after rumors leaked before free agency that the Kings and Bucks had agreed on a sign-and-trade deal for Bogdan Bogdanovic.
While this might look like a good deal for the Spurs, keep in mind the Lakers would have to agree to this type of deal as well as DeRozan. There’s been reports the Lakers are looking to move Kuzma and/or Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, but there hasn’t been any reports that they’re trying to move the 22nd pick.
These are some options to keep in mind in the event there’s more traction in the coming days that DeRozan and the Lakers do indeed want to work together next season.