Magic Johnson blames LeBron James for missed DeRozan opportunity
Now it seems like its Magic Johnson's turn to have a go at LeBron James in a week that has already seen Kareem Abdul-Jabbar question some of James' choices.
In a week that has seen former Lakers great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar criticize the current team's star, we can now add Magic Johnson to the list of Lakers legends who have taken issue LeBron James
Missed DeRozan opportunity is LeBron's fault - Magic Johnson
True though it is that former Lakers' icon Kareem Abdul-Jabbar criticized LeBron James this week, his comments were largely focused on James' off-court behavior. When it comes to Magic Johnson on the other hand, the Lakers' legend centrally focused on the James' basketball related activities. Specifically, Johnson spoke to the present Lakers star's role in the formation of the roster. Indeed, Johnson explained that the reason that Southern California native DeMar DeRozan is currently playing with the Chicago Bulls and not the Los Angeles Lakers, is because LeBron James made it so.
"When I think about it, the blame that he's gotta take is the fact that DeRozan ended up in Chicago and not with the Lakers," Johnson said. "DeRozan wanted to play for the Lakers, and when I got the call from his agent, I called the Lakers, said, 'Hey, he wants to come home.' And DeRozan could have been a Laker instead of a Bull. We could have made that deal, but when Russell 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."
Would DeMar Derozan have been a better deal?
As we now know, DeRozan went to the Bulls in a sign-and-trade with the Spurs and incredibly, it only cost them Thaddeus Young, a future first-round pick and two second-round picks. To be frank, if the Lakers had gotten DeRozan instead of Westbrook, it simply wouldn't have cost them all that it did to get Westbrook, which is to say, Kyle Kuzma, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Montrezl Harrell. Of course that doesn't automatically mean that DeRozan would have been a better fit, but on the other hand, look at the season DeRozan is having - All-Star status with a career high average of 28 ppg. - and then look at Westbrook.
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It must be said that Westbrook is not the scapegoat here, or at least he shouldn't be. To be honest, the Lakers at 31-47 on the season and 2 games off the play-in spot have been poor. While they haven't officially lost there chance at making the playoffs, the fact is they aren't far off.
So if what Magic Johnson says is true...?
Here's the thing, if what Johnson's saying is true, it doesn't require any sinister overtones being added to the narrative to understand that it didn't work out. To add further weight to that notion is the idea that it has in fact been reported that both the Lakers and Westbrook, have a mutual interest in seeing him move on before the start of the next season. Regardless, the Lakers literally have no time to entertain 'what if?' scenarios. Salvaging something from this season would be nice, but the real challenge comes in insuring that they can rebuild effectively enough to make this campaign a bad but brief memory.