Magic Johnson blames LeBron James for Lakers not signing DeMar DeRozan


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Former Lakers great Magic Johnson says LeBron James is to blame for Los Angeles not signing DeMar DeRozan in free agency.

“The blame he has to take is the fact that DeRozan ended up in Chicago and not with the Lakers,” Johnson said in response to a question about the fair criticism of James, during an appearance this week on ” Get Up” from ESPN.

Johnson, the Lakers’ former president of basketball operations, went into detail about the situation, saying DeRozan’s agent called him last offseason to let him know DeRozan wanted to play for Los Angeles.

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Bulls forward DeMar DeRozan looks to pass against the Los Angeles Clippers in Chicago on Thursday, March 31, 2022.
(AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

Johnson said he then called the Lakers to let them know that DeRozan, who played college basketball for the USC Trojans, wanted to “come home.”

But the Lakers instead decided to acquire Russell Westbrook from the Washington Wizards – in exchange for Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Montrezl Harrell and Kyle Kuzma.

“We could have done this deal, but when Russell and LeBron and the others started talking, that’s when they called off that deal and went with Westbrook, and he became a Laker instead. of DeRozan,” Johnson said.

LeBron James Lakers shoots a free throw against the Detroit Pistons on November 28, 2021 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California.

LeBron James Lakers shoots a free throw against the Detroit Pistons on November 28, 2021 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California.
(Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images)

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After the deal fell through, DeRozan signed with the Chicago Bulls, and he’s having arguably the best season of his career. DeRozan is averaging a career-high 28 points per game and a career-best shooting percentage from behind the arc with Chicago, which is currently the No. 5 seed in the Eastern Conference standings.

Meanwhile, Westbrook is having one of the worst seasons of his NBA career, averaging just 18.4 points per game, the lowest total for him since his second season in the league. He also averages just 7.1 assists per game.

The Los Angeles Lakers guard Russell Westbrook during the game against the Golden State Warriors at Staples Center on October 12, 2021.

The Los Angeles Lakers guard Russell Westbrook during the game against the Golden State Warriors at Staples Center on October 12, 2021.
(Kiyoshi Mio-USA TODAY Sports)

With Westbrook struggling this season, the Lakers (31-47) are the No. 11 seed and are set to miss out on even making the qualifying tournament this month.

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Johnson said if the Lakers had made the deal with DeRozan instead, the team could have retained key defensive players like Alex Caruso and Caldwell-Pope – and would “play in the Western Conference championship this year.”


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