Coming into the off-season, most people assumed that the Los Angeles Lakers would be hard-pressed to land the top free agent target, Kevin Durant. One target that seemed a little more attainable, however, was Toronto Raptors guard, and Compton-native, DeMar DeRozan.
Though there had been conflicting reports of the Lakers’ interest in DeRozan, many believed that the opportunity to return home could sway things.. DeRozan ultimately decided to remain in Toronto, not meeting with any other teams.
Kevin Durant recently spoke about his reasoning for not meeting with the Lakers, but according to Mark Medina of the LA Daily News, DeRozan’s reason for staying in Toronto had nothing to do with what the Lakers didn’t have, but what he wanted to build in Toronto:
“When you have an opportunity to go home, that’s something that certainly would cross your mind. But it wasn’t anything,” DeRozan told Southern California News Group. “After I finish playing, I’m pretty sure I’ll live in L.A. But I just wanted to do something special and leave a legacy of my own in Toronto.”
The idea of DeRozan wanting to build something special where he was drafted is admirable. The Raptors have improved greatly from DeRozan’s rookie season, and just made the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time. DeRozan wanting to build on that makes complete sense.
DeRozan’s reasoning also serves as a reminder that sometimes players have their reasons for not joining the Lakers that have nothing to do with something the Lakers have done wrong. It has become normal for many to bash the Lakers and use things like this to show how far they have fallen, but in this case, the Lakers probably wouldn’t have had much of a chance even if they were a playoff team.
Regardless of their failure to land a big name in free agency, the Lakers remain in a great spot for the future with a ton of young talent including D’Angelo Russell, Brandon Ingram, and Julius Randle. It should only be a matter of time before the Lakers return to glory.