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Despite James' league-leading average of 30.3 points per game which he's supplemented with 8.2 rebounds and 6.2 assists per contest, the Lakers are currently 31-47 and in serious danger of mi Derrick Rose ssing the NBA's Play-In Tournament.
On Monday, Lakers legend Magic Johnson appeared on ESPN' NBA Bobbleheads s "Get Up," where he spoke on what has gone wrong for his beloved team during its nightmarish season. While James is doing everything he can on the court, Johnson said that the 18-time All-Star must take blame for what could have gone differently when the team was constructed last offseason.
"When I think about it," Johnson began, "the blame that he's gotta take is the fact that [DeMar] DeRozan ended up in Chicago and not with the Lakers."
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Johnson continued, adding that "DeRozan wanted to play for the Laker stephen curry jersey women s and when I got the call from his agent, I called the Lakers and said 'hey, he wants to come home,' and DeRozan could've been a Laker instead of a Bull — w NBA Beanies e could've made that deal."
DeRozan, a native of Compton, Calif., was an unrestricted free agent in 2021. He even admitted that early negotiations led him to believe that a homecoming to join the Lakers was a "done deal."
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According to Johnson, it was LeBron's desire for the Lakers to bring in Russell Westbrook that derailed any chance the team had of acquiring DeRozan.
"When Russe stephen curry jersey blue ll [Westbrook] and LeBron and them started talking, that's when they nixed that deal and went with Westbrook and he became a Laker instead of DeRozan."
Johnson, who served as the Lakers President of Basketball Operations from 2017-19, took things a step further, explaining the ways in which the team could have been constructed much better had they acquired DeRozan.
MORE: DeMar DeRozan to the Lakers was a 'done deal'? Bulls star explains what happened in free agency
"I think with DeRozan, you got a chance to keep the role players — [Alex] Caruso, [Kentavious Caldwell-Pope] — all of those guys steph curry origins jersey who are our best defenders left," Johnson said. "And that's why we're a bad defensive team.
With four games remaining in the 2021-22 regular season, the Lakers defense ranks 23rd in the league.
"If you sign DeRozan, you only trade [Kyle] Kuzma for Buddy Hield, we would be playing in the Western Conference championship this year with those two guys."
Because of Westbrook's $44.2 million salary for the 2021-22 season, the Lakers needed to send a large package to Washington to make the money work. To acquire Westbrook from the Wizards, the Lakers traded Caldwell-Pope, Kuzma, Montrezl Harrell and their first-round pick in the 2021 NBA Draft.
DeRozan, on the other hand, was acquired by the Bulls via sign-and-trade on a three-year deal worth $81.9 million.
Unless DeRozan was willing to take a hometown discount to join the Lakers, LA still would have been forced to send out roughly $26 million in salary, meaning the team would not have been able to keep all of the role players that Johnson listed.
That said, DeRozan is wrapping one of the best statistical seasons of his career while Westbrook is wrapping up one of his worst.
Hindsight is always 20/20, but with Johnson lending crede stephen curry jersey toddler nce to the notion that LA could have gotten DeRozan, it's hard not to wonder "what if?"