DeMar DeRozan signed a three-year, $85 million deal with the Chicago Bulls in unrestricted free agency last summer. The Bulls and San Antonio Spurs agreed to a sign-and-trade deal involving the All-Star forward, who is fourth in the NBA in points per game (28.0) this season.
Behind DeRozan, the Bulls are in fourth place in the Eastern Conference standings and well on their way to making the playoffs for the first time since 2017. Chicago’s front office of Artūras Karnišovas and Marc Eversley deserves a lot of credit for signing DeRozan and not listening to the pundits who said the swingman wouldn’t be a good fit next to Zach LaVine.
DeRozan was born and raised in Compton, California. He’s always wanted to play at home, which is why he spoke to the Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers in free agency. According to Bill Oram, Shams Charania and Sam Amick of The Athletic, DeRozan took part in meetings at LeBron James’ house over the summer and felt confident about his chances of signing with the Lakers.
However, after the Lakers acquired Russell Westbrook from the Washington Wizards, DeRozan knew he had to look elsewhere and was serious about signing with the Clippers after talking to Paul George and Lawrence Frank.
On the latest episode of Milwaukee Bucks big man Serge Ibaka’s show, How Hungry Are You, DeRozan told Ibaka he was close to signing with the Clippers but canceled a meeting with them after the Bulls offered him a three-year, $85 million contract. If the Clippers had come over to DeRozan’s house a day before, he might have been a Clipper instead of a Bull.
The Clippers couldn’t offer DeRozan $85 million. The former Toronto Raptors star would have had to take a pay cut to play on LAC and it’s clear he made the right decision, both financially and basketball-wise, by signing with the Bulls.
DeRozan Is Putting up MVP Numbers for Bulls
DeRozan is in the MVP conversation this season. He’s averaging 28.0 points, 5.4 rebounds and 5.1 assists while shooting 50.9% from the field, 35.7% from beyond the arc and 86.7% from the free-throw line.
LaVine recruited DeRozan to the Bulls while he was playing in the Olympics in Japan, while DeRozan felt comfortable signing with Chicago since he knew Eversley well. Eversley, the Bulls’ general manager, drafted DeRozan in Toronto.
“He knew everything about me basketball-wise,” DeRozan told Tyler R. Tynes of GQ. “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.”
The Clippers would have loved to create a Big Three of DeRozan, George and Kawhi Leonard. However, since Leonard hasn’t played this season due to a knee injury and George has only appeared in 26 games, DeRozan would have wasted a year of his prime if he signed with the Clippers.
DeRozan Has a Good Supporting Cast in Chicago
The Bulls have a deep team around DeRozan, headlined by LaVine, Nikola Vucevic, Lonzo Ball, Alex Caruso, Ayo Dosunmu and Coby White. Chicago has a better record than LAC and DeRozan is making more money with the Bulls than he would have made with the Clippers.
With that said, DeRozan won free agency for himself. He not only got paid, but he is also turning heads left and right with his stellar play.
It will be interesting to see how far the Bulls go in the 2022 playoffs behind the backs of DeRozan, LaVine and Vucevic. Chicago hasn’t reached the NBA Finals since 1998.