Skip to main content

Magic Johnson points out how things fell apart between the Lakers and DeMar DeRozan: "When LeBron started talking to Westbrook"

If Magic Johnson was the Lakers' general manager, then the team would be in a better place.
Magic Johnson points out how things fell apart between the Lakers and DeMar DeRozan

Magic Johnson reveals what went wrong when the Lakers were aiming to get DeMar DeRozan

Amid the Los Angeles Lakers' struggles in the 2021-22 NBA season, fans and analysts would regularly look back at that fateful offseason when the team boasted of its Hall-of-Fame haul. There was already a good amount of resentment of their massive roster tweak, not necessarily because the team turned into a retiring home. It was mainly because DeMar DeRozan — the mid-range assassin who has been making his mark in Chicago — was a few conversations away from going home. Instead, the Lakers got Russell Westbrook, whose fit with LeBron James was immediately doubted. Magic Johnson walked through his involvement (or lack thereof) in the deal and how James should be blamed for the fallout between DeRozan and the Lakers.

LeBron is to blame

Though Johnson isn't formally part of the Lakers front office, the man has quite a bit of influence on the executives. Lakers controlling owner and president admitted that she consults Johnson from time to time on what he sees on the basketball court and what should be done.

Johnson recalled that he was actually in touch with DeRozan's agent, who noted that the five-time All-Star wanted to finally don the legendary Purple and Gold jerseys. The Compton native had been in the rumor mill for quite some time amid several heartbreaking seasons with the Toronto Raptors. After his subpar stint with the San Antonio Spurs, it seemed like the perfect time to finally go home.

"The blame that he's got to take is the fact that DeRozan ended up in Chicago and not with the Lakers. DeRozan wanted to play for the Lakers and when I got the call from his agent, [Aaron Goodwin], I called the Lakers, said, 'Hey [DeRozan] wants to come home,'" Johnson said, per Get Up.

Scroll to Continue

Recommended Articles

As we all know, this deal didn't push through. Instead, the Lakers turned their eyes to the Washington Wizards to arrange a massive transaction. It's a mystery as to why Pelinka made a sudden left turn. According to Johnson, the DeRozan deal fell apart when LeBron James started walking with Westbrook. This created a trail of botched transactions that could've made for a better roster than the current one.

"We could've made that deal. But when Russell and LeBron started talking, that's when they nixed that deal and went with Westbrook… If you signed DeRozan and you only trade [Kyle] Kuzma for Buddy Hield, we would be playing in the Western Conference championship this year with those two guys."I called [Lakers general manager] Rob [Pelinka] and said, 'DeRozan wants to come play.' So I got out of the way… I went on vacation and the next thing I hear is we're not gonna sign DeRozan but trade for Westbrook," Johnson added.

DeRozan himself has shared his side of the story. Like most NBA players, DeRozan places a lot of premium on getting a chance to play for their hometown. Apart from this, he also wanted to get a chance to play with James, arguably one of the greatest of all time. The USC product admitted that he almost took a "realistic" pay cut to join the Lakers.

Keeping the core

Johnson shared that 3-point assassin Buddy Hield was also on the verge of heading to Tinseltown, but the front office suddenly backed out. If Hield and DeRozan were in the fold, Johnson knew exactly what he would've done: keep the core intact.

"They had the Buddy Hield trade already done and then backed out of it. You have DeRozan and Hield, then you could've kept [Alex] Caruso and KCP [Kentavious Caldwell-Pope]. Those guys are defenders. They're on-ball defenders… We'd be competing for the Western Conference Finals," Johnson said.

A handful of fans have echoed Johnson's sentiments. Part of the Lakers' struggles this season is their lack of chemistry. Only James, Anthony Davis, Talen Horton-Tucker, Dwight Howard, and Avery Bradley are from the 2020 title team. Note that THT was a mere rookie during that year and wasn't in the rotation.

Johnson's revelation reveals that the Lakers front office did make a slew of mistakes in the offseason. They literally had DeRozan and Hield locked in but chose to move in another direction. One can't help but imagine if Johnson stayed in the front office and called the shots. Today, the Lakers would be at least a championship-contending team and not a tired, old bottom-feeding squad.

Washington Wizards point guard Gilbert Arenas playing against the New York Knicks

"Everybody wants to play in the Garden, besides the Knicks" — Gilbert Arenas goes in on New York Knicks fans

Gilbert Arenas breaks down why superstars don't want to play for the New York Knicks

Los Angeles Lakers guard Patrick Beverley

"Patrick Beverley in the playoffs is an issue" — Iman Shumpert speaks on Patrick Beverley's value to the Los Angeles Lakers

Not everyone can see it right now, but Shumpert understands the importance of Pat Bev to the Lakers.


"It was an unmitigated slaughter calling out Shaq on everything" — Kobe Bryant savagely criticized Shaquille O'Neal in an unreleased statement

Sports Illustrated's Howard Beck talked about at the unpublished Kobe interview where he apparently ripped Shaq like never before.

Chicago Bulls guard Michael Jordan

"He’ll give you the shirt off his back" — Juwan Howard's Michael Jordan story reveals the other side of Black Jesus

Juwan Howard expected to get trash-talked to death upon seeing Michael Jordan in Los Angeles.

Boston Celtics legend Kevin Mchale, Marcus Smart, Blake Griffin, Grant Williams, Malcom Brogdon

“The team honestly is stronger than any one coach” — Kevin McHale explains why Ime Udoka's scandal did not crumble the Boston Celtics

Celtics legend Kevin McHale admitted that he thought Udoka's suspension would significantly affect the Boston Celtics

New York Knicks guard Jeremy Lin and forward Carmelo Anthony

"Multiple points of opposition" — Jeremy Lin addresses Carmelo Anthony's rumored jealousy and who squashed Linsanity

Rumors suggested that Carmelo Anthony played a part in the New York Knicks' decision not to re-sign Jeremy Lin.

Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving and New York Knicks guard Stephon Marbury

“They hate your existence because you’re persistent and consistent” — Stephon Marbury has Kyrie Irving’s back

Marbury also said that Kyrie is a true leader and someone he wants his son to look up to.