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NBA Star Admits He Thought He Was Going To The Lakers

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - JULY 16: DeMar DeRozan and LeBron James smile on the court during the Drew League Pro-Am on July 16, 2022 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Cassy Athena/Getty Images)

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - JULY 16: DeMar DeRozan and LeBron James smile on the court during the Drew League Pro-Am on July 16, 2022 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Cassy Athena/Getty Images)

DeMar DeRozan had a different destination in mind before joining the Chicago Bulls last year.

Speaking on The Old Man & the Three podcast, the five-time All-Star said he was "hell-bent on playing for the Lakers." The California native assumed he would go home to join forces with LeBron James and Anthony Davis.

"To my knowledge, I thought it was a done deal," DeRozan said.

The veteran guard said he took a trip to Mexico before free agency began. He expected to sign with the Lakers when returning home, but former Toronto Raptors teammate Kyle Lowry called to inform DeRozan that the Lakers traded for Russell Westbrook.

"In my mind, that was the only option for me to go to," DeRozan said of Los Angeles. "Like I was sold on that. Done deal. I didn't even entertain anything else."

That trade put DeRozan in "scramble mode" when he realized Westbrook's arrival took the Lakers off the table. 

A week after the Lakers landed Westbrook, the Bulls acquired DeRozan in a sign-and-trade with the San Antonio Spurs. He registered a career-high 27.9 points per game in his first season in Chicago, which snapped a four-year playoff drought.

The Lakers, meanwhile, went 33-49 and missed the postseason. 

While the Bulls weren't his first choice, DeRozan could help the former juggernaut rise up the Eastern Conference ranks alongside Lonzo Ball, Zach Lavine, and Nikola Vucevic.