Why Los Angeles Lakers Should Put All Their Eggs in the DeMar DeRozan Basket

Let’s start with some good news: The Los Angeles Lakers will enter this summer with roughly $67 million to spend before they hit the salary cap, which may stretch to $92 million. That’s more than just about every team in the league. That's plenty of space for two, or even three, max contracts, depending on which players the Lakers target and what happens with their first-round draft pick.

Now, some bad news: This July’s free-agent crop won't satisfy a seller’s market. Guys who don't "deserve" eight- or nine-figure contracts will get them.

But franchise-altering talent can still be plucked from the ground. Players who can single-handedly help L.A. immediately are out there. And of the reasonably obtainable options available (aka not Kevin Durant), no signing would be more momentous than Toronto Raptors shooting guard DeMar DeRozan.

A maximum contract for the L.A. native will cost roughly $25.3 million next year and eventually spill over the $100 million mark. ESPN.com’s Zach Lowe reported last month the Lakers are more than willing to splurge:

That starts with DeRozan, a lock to decline his option and hit free agency this summer. A bunch of teams, including DeRozan's hometown Lakers, are prepared to offer him a max deal starting at $25 million per season, and the Raptors know they will have to spend big to keep him.

This jibes with an earlier report from the Toronto Sun’s Ryan Wolstat:

Just about every team will have ample cap space, including his hometown Los Angeles Lakers. ... While his hometown Lakers surely will be one of those suitors — they long have had interest in the swingman — DeRozan has always been fiercely loyal to the organization that drafted him, paid him what at the time was considered above market value on an extension (eventually it became one of the shrewdest bargains of then general manager Bryan...

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