DeMar DeRozan signed a three-year, $85 million contract with the Chicago Bulls in the offseason as part of a sign-and-trade deal with the San Antonio Spurs.
The All-Star shooting guard has arguably been the best free-agent addition in the NBA, as he’s averaging 27.9 points, 5.2 rebounds and 5.1 rebounds and has the Bulls in second place in the Eastern Conference standings.
The Bulls seemingly came out of left field in the DeRozan summer sweepstakes. However, one of their best players knew the California native could come to Chicago since he recruited Deebo during the 2020-21 season.
Nikola Vucevic Recruited DeRozan to Bulls During Spurs Game
The Bulls and Spurs faced each other twice in March 2021. In one of the games, Chicago center Nikola Vucevic — who played with DeRozan in college at USC — walked over to the former Toronto Raptors superstar and said, “Let’s figure this thing out.”
“You’re a free agent,” DeRozan remembers Vucevic telling him, via Tyler R. Tynes of GQ. “Let’s figure this thing out.”
DeRozan was pursued by the Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers in free agency. However, he signed with the Bulls since he wanted to play with Vucevic and Zach LaVine. It also helped that Chicago had Marc Eversley, who drafted DeRozan in Toronto. Eversley is the Bulls’ general manager.
“He knew everything about me basketball-wise,” DeRozan told Tynes. “He understood how I could fit in and they wanted to allow me to be myself. The only thing that matters to me now is winning. That’s my only approach. That’s my only satisfaction.”
So many pundits ripped the Bulls for signing DeRozan, who does most of his damage from the mid-range and doesn’t shoot a lot of 3-pointers. All of those critics are nowhere to be found now, though, since DeRozan is third in the league in scoring and the Bulls look like title contenders.
DeRozan on His Critics: ‘I Love It When People Tell Me I Can’t Do Something’
DeRozan heard all the naysayers who said he was washed and wouldn’t fit well with LaVine. The 32-year-old, who will start in this year’s All-Star Game for Team LeBron, takes a lot of pride in proving people wrong.
“I hear it all the time,” DeRozan told Tynes. “I love it when people tell me I can’t do something. You just kind of laugh because how can you tell me something I can’t do when I know how hard I worked?”
DeRozan and LaVine are the highest-scoring duo in the NBA. The former is averaging 27.9 points, while the latter is putting up 24.6 points per game. The Bulls are 10th in the league in net rating and average 112.4 points, which is good for seventh in the NBA.
DeRozan and LaVine have been a dynamic duo all season and Chicago fans certainly can’t wait to see them shine together in the 2022 playoffs.
Vucevic, who is averaging 18.1 points and 11.7 rebounds, may have planted the seed in DeRozan’s mind about coming to the Bulls. The two-time All-Star deserves credit for getting his fellow USC Trojan to Chicago and making the Bulls an elite team.