In a free agent market that was relatively short on star power, DeMar DeRozan was one of the biggest names available this past summer. The four-time All-Star averaged 21.6 PPG during his three seasons with the San Antonio Spurs, and was expected to take that scoring prowess somewhere else for the 2021-22 season.
Being from Los Angeles, there was always speculation that DeRozan would prefer a homecoming with one of LA's teams. With both the Lakers and Clippers already having multiple max contracts on their payroll, DeRozan would have needed to take a significant pay cut to join either team. There was also some speculation that DeRozan would be interested in joining his old friend Kyle Lowry in Miami; however, the cap situation there would have also required a significant pay cut.
In a recent interview with The Athletic's Shams Charania, DeMar DeRozan, who ultimately signed a 3-year / $85M contract with the Chicago Bulls, said he felt disrespected by the rumors he would take a pay cut. When asked by Shams how he took these rumors, DeRozan said, "Definitely take it as disrespect. But you see all the crazy stuff going on, you can’t just jump out there and be like, ‘Nah, I’m not doing that. I’m not doing that.’ You just gotta kinda trust the process and the business and everything you was going through, and Chicago was always a team that was on my radar in free agency."
While DeRozan was rightfully never interested in sacrificing nearly $80M to join either the Lakers, Clippers, or Heat, he did say that he had conversations with LeBron James about potentially joining the Lakers. DeRozan said that he and LeBron tried to find a way to get him to the Lakers, but it just never worked out. DeMar admitted that being from Los Angeles, playing for the Lakers would have been amazing, but the financial logistics were just unrealistic.
The Clippers were in a similar situation, having only the mid-level exception to offer DeRozan, which would have never rivaled the deal he ultimately signed in Chicago.