The offseason was filled with rumors on who the Los Angeles Lakers will add to beef up their roster. Names of stars and role players populated the grapevine either to the delight or chagrin of fans. DeMar DeRozan was one of those constantly in the rumor mill. Lakers fans did not mind that he had a tense rivalry with LeBron James. They were confident that DeRozan is one heck of a baller and could deliver a title back in Tinseltown.
"Realistic" pay cut
In an interview with Taylor Rooks, DeRozan confirmed the rumors were true; Rob Pelinka did reach out to him with a contract in hand. Reporters claimed the agreement included a substantial pay cut. From DeRozan's point of view, "substantial" is the wrong word — "realistic" is more apt. But the money seemed trivial to DeRozan. He had three other reasons why he almost went to LA to team up with LeBron James.
"One, I wanted to go home. You know, you don't get that opportunity often. You know, I got it before but I decided to stay in Toronto. It was an option, you know? To have the opportunity to play with the greatest players of all time. So why not? It's hard to turn that down, you know? And the want to compete for the championship in your hometown. Like, all those elements just had lined up to allow me to consider a realistic pay cut," DeRozan ">said.
One of the biggest 'What Ifs'
With how DeRozan is performing for the Chicago Bulls vis-à-vis the Lakers struggles with Russell Westbrook, we could say that we just witnessed one of the biggest what-ifs in recent NBA history.
DeRozan did not get into detail on why he did not proceed to go home. On the flip side of the coin, perhaps Pelinka and the organization didn't think DeRozan was worth chasing. After all, the five-time All-Star fell out the radar during his three-year stint in San Antonio Spurs. The California native averaged pretty good numbers and even posted career-highs in rebounds and assists. But the Spurs only made the playoffs once in his time there. This led people to believe that not only was Gregg Popovich done, but DeRozan is no longer a star-caliber player.
Over the last few weeks or so, reports reveal that LeBron James and Anthony Davis had a major influence on the front office, particularly on who they'll get as their third star. While the organization had its eyes set on either DeRozan or Buddy Hield, James and Davis pushed to pursue Russell Westbrook.
If we play the blame game, we know who to point our fingers at - James and Davis. So what did they see in Westbrook's game that made them think everything would work seamlessly? We'll never find out. However, Pelinka and the front office are equally guilty as well. While the executives need to consult their players, the decision is ultimately theirs. With the benefit of hindsight, Pelinka should have followed his instincts.