In a June 1 story called “1 Trade Idea for Every Team Not In the 2023 NBA Finals,” Greg Swartz of Bleacher Report proposed that the Lakers trade Russell, Bamba, Max Christie and a 2029 unprotected first-round pick to the Chicago Bulls for DeMar DeRozan.
“DeRozan gives the Lakers a third All-Star to pair with LeBron James and Anthony Davis, putting Los Angeles back into true championship contention,” Swartz wrote.
DeRozan took part in meetings at LeBron James’ house during the summer of 2021. The future Hall of Famer thought he would sign with the Lakers, but things changed after Los Angeles acquired Russell Westbrook from the Washington Wizards.
After the Lakers got Westbrook, DeRozan signed a three-year, $85 million contract with the Bulls as part of a sign-and-trade deal with the San Antonio Spurs. The swingman told Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports in November 2021 that he “felt like going to the Lakers was a done deal” in the offseason of 2021.
“I felt like going to the Lakers was a done deal and that we were going to figure it out. I was going to come home,” DeRozan told Haynes. “The business side of things just didn’t work out. A couple of things didn’t align. It didn’t work out. It’s just part of the business, part of the game.”
DeRozan has a close relationship with James and Anthony Davis. The California native is open to playing for the Lakers if the Bulls decide to rebuild this offseason, sources told Heavy Sports.
The Lakers Need More Shot-Creation & Shot-Making Around LeBron James & Anthony Davis
Zach Buckley of Bleacher Report believes the Lakers need more shot-creation and shot-making around James and Davis, which is why he advocated for Los Angeles to acquire DeRozan in a March 30 article titled “Hypothetical Lakers Trades to Boost Pursuit of 2024 NBA Title.”
“The Lakers need more shot-creation and shot-making around LeBron James and Anthony Davis,” Buckley wrote. “That’s why they initially gambled on Russell Westbrook, and it’s why they targeted D’Angelo Russell at the deadline. They need more scoring than either could provide, though. That’s why they could consider swinging a deal for DeMar DeRozan, the Compton native who’s on course to average better than 24 points on 50-plus percent shooting for the second consecutive season.
“He isn’t the outside shooter L.A. would ideally pair with its two stars, but the trade budget only stretches so far. Turning one future first-rounder and a shooting specialist into a top-tier scorer and solid secondary playmaker is a win, even if the fit isn’t perfect.”
DeRozan is one of the best scorers in the NBA. He averaged 24.5 points this season for the Bulls while shooting 50.4% from the field, 32.4% from beyond the arc and 87.2% from the free-throw line.
NBA Exec: LeBron James Is Not a Fan of D’Angelo Russell
The Bulls need a point guard since Lonzo Ball is expected to miss the entire 2023-24 season, so Russell going to Chicago and DeRozan heading to Los Angeles could make sense.
“I hate to say one playoff series can change a franchise’s whole outlook on a guy because that just does not happen, but it is happening with some of the people in that building, maybe most significantly, with LeBron,” one Western Conference executive told Deveney. “Is this a guy they want to invest in? Does LeBron want him back — there is talk that he is not Russell’s biggest fan.”
Russell played poorly in the Western Conference Finals versus the Denver Nuggets, averaging just 6.3 points while shooting 32.3% from the field and 13.3% from beyond the arc.