Zach LaVine Reveals How He Swayed DeMar DeRozan to Sign With Bulls

Bulls stars Zach LaVine and DeMar DeRozan

Getty DeMar DeRozan #11 and Zach LaVine #8 of the Chicago Bulls speak prior to a game against the Phoenix Suns.

DeMar DeRozan was an unrestricted free agent last summer and met with the Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers before signing a three-year, $85 million deal with the Chicago Bulls.

The Bulls and San Antonio Spurs agreed to a sign-and-trade deal involving DeRozan, who is putting up superstar numbers in his first season in the Windy City. The five-time All-Star is averaging 28.3 points, 5.2 rebounds and 5.1 assists while shooting 52.1% from the field, 35.3% from beyond the arc and 86.4% from the free-throw line.

DeRozan was born and raised in Compton, California. He grew up idolizing Kobe Bryant and has a strong rapport with Lakers superstars LeBron James and Anthony Davis. According to Bill Oram, Shams Charania and Sam Amick of The Athletic, DeRozan took part in meetings at LeBron’s house over the summer and felt confident about his chances of signing with the Lakers.

However, after Los Angeles acquired Russell Westbrook from the Washington Wizards, DeRozan knew he had to look elsewhere and that’s when Bulls shooting guard Zach LaVine went to work.

LaVine Recruited DeRozan from Japan

LaVine told Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report at All-Star weekend in Cleveland that he recruited DeRozan to the Bulls from Japan. The UCLA product was playing in the Olympics for Team USA and called DeRozan at 3 a.m. once.

“During the Olympics it did, and then obviously everything came to fruition after that,” LaVine said. “Obviously I knew he was definitely in talks with the Lakers and probably a couple of other teams. I’m just happy that we got him.

“There were some nights, I called him one night at like 3 a.m. because of the time change, just to talk to him about how everything was going on with free agency and how we could make it work. And when I came back, we got together. Obviously the signing happened, we started working out together in the offseason, and we both came to Chicago early because it’s a pretty new team. Pretty much everyone’s new on the team. We started off really early on in the process. I think that’s why we have such good chemistry.”

It’s a good thing LaVine recruited DeRozan to the Bulls, who have the best record in the Eastern Conference. The two stars are the highest-scoring duo (52.8 points per game) in the NBA and Chicago is on its way to making the playoffs for the first time since 2017.

DeRozan has appeared in 58 postseason games with the Toronto Raptors and Spurs. However, LaVine has never been to the playoffs, which is why he’s been paying close attention to what DeRozan has been telling him.

LaVine on What DeRozan Has Been Telling Him

LaVine told Fischer that DeRozan has been preaching “championship habits” ever since they linked up for offseason training.

“You just gotta be consistent every day and have championship habits,” LaVine said. “Each and every day you have to have a goal in mind and get to that mindset of we’re building for something. It’s not just, ‘Oh, we won or lost this game.’ You have to have championship habits each and every day.

“I think everybody’s a lot more locked in, a lot more vocal. Through shootarounds, scripts, after games, guys talk about what we could’ve done better or what we did well and could still do adjustments on. That’s definitely a little bit different.”

LaVine becomes an unrestricted free agent this summer for the first time in his career. If he plays well in the 2022 postseason, the Washington native will likely receive a max contract from the Bulls.

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