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Lakers, Clippers may eye DeRozan, but don’t bet on him taking steep pay cut

Spurs wing DeMar DeRozan

CLEVELAND, OH - MARCH 19: DeMar DeRozan #10 of the San Antonio Spurs looks on during the game Cleveland Cavaliers on March 24, 2021 at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2021 NBAE (Photo by David Liam Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images)

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DeMar DeRozan made $27.7 million last season in San Antonio, where he averaged 21.6 points and 6.9 assists a game.

A free agent who can sign anywhere he wants, DeRozan will take a paycut this season — just don’t bet on him taking one all the way down to $5.9 million to come home to Los Angeles. League sources told NBC Sports DeRozan expects eight-figure offers from teams looking for more scoring/shot creation and, while he grew up in Los Angeles and wants a ring, he’s not leaving that much money on the table. Talk around the league of DeRozan to L.A. seems to have cooled.

In a roundtable at the Los Angeles Times, Clippers writer Andrew Greif and Lakers writer Brodrick Turner said this about DeRozan:

Greif: One name described as a target of the [Clippers’] interest in free agency is DeMar DeRozan, who is an unrestricted free agent.

Turner: DeRozan had his sights set on joining the Lakers as a free agent and coming home to play for his favorite team while growing up in Compton. But Russ put the brakes on that. DeRozan made $27 million last season and probably doesn’t want to take that big of a pay cut. So, for the Clippers to sign DeRozan, they probably would have to do a sign-and-trade. But watch out for Dallas possibly being a home for DeRozan.

Neither the Lakers nor Clippers can do a sign-and-trade. Bringing in a player on a sign-and-trade would trigger the NBA’s hard cap, expected to be set at $143 million next season — both teams will be well over that number. The Lakers have $120 million wrapped up in LeBron James/Anthony Davis/Russell Westbrook alone, there’s no room for a DeRozan sign-and-trade and the contracts to round out the roster. For the Clippers, once Kawhi Leonard opts-in/opts-out and re-signs with the team, they will be over the $143 million figure.

That leaves the Lakers and Clippers with the $5.9 million tax-payer mid-level exception to offer, and DeRozan’s value on the market is higher than that. DeRozan expects bigger offers — Turner mentioned the Mavericks, that rumor has been around for a while, and the Knicks have him on their radar — although how long a contract those teams will offer remains to be seen.

A more likely target for the Lakers/Clippers is someone like Patty Mills — both Los Angeles teams could use help off the bench at the point and more shot creation (he comes up in that L.A. times roundtable). Mills may have better offers, too, but a player such as that is a more realistic option than DeRozan.