The start of NBA free agency is still weeks away with teams being able to reach out to players on July 1. Although there’s still a lot of time between now and then, the rumors have already started to run rampant about the intentions of top-tier free-agents-to-be like Kevin Durant, LeBron James, and DeMar DeRozan.
DeRozan will likely opt out of his contract with the Raptors making him one of the most sought-after unrestricted free agents on the open market this summer. The Lakers will have a decent chance of luring back to the city of Los Angeles with enough cap space to sign him to a long-term deal along with the opportunity to give him a significant role on the team.
During Tuesday’s show of ESPN’s First Take, Stephen A. Smith claimed DeRozan has made it very clear he wants to come to Los Angeles this summer:
“He’s made it very, very clear that he wants to be in L.A.,” Smith said of DeRozan’s intentions in free agency. “He has family out there. He’s from out there. He wants to be in L.A. He wants to wear the purple and gold, and if there’s a way for it to happen, again he’s restricted, if there’s a way for it to happen, DeMar DeRozan will be in a Los Angeles Lakers uniform next season.”
Smith does say DeRozan is a restricted free agent this summer which isn’t true. The 26-year-old guard has a player option on his contract worth $9.5 million for next season, via Sportrac.com. DeRozan can and more than likely will opt out of the deal to secure his long-term future in Toronto or elsewhere.
Over the past few weeks, DeRozan has been linked to the Los Angeles Lakers with many speculating that he may be the team’s best chance at signing an All-Star-caliber player this summer. The Los Angeles native has a soft spot for his hometown where he played basketball in high school at Compton and college at USC before getting drafted by the Toronto Raptors in 2009.
Even Laker legend Magic Johnson took to Twitter this week urging his former team to reach out to DeRozan once he hits the free-agent market. The Lakers will have a few options in free agency this summer with DeRozan expected to be one of the team’s top targets along with Durant, Hassan Whiteside, and Al Horford.