But, whether it was because he is an NBA player under contract with another team or because of the company he kept on the sidelines – he was seated next to 15-time world champion boxer Floyd Mayweather – the Clippers social media team snubbed the six-time All-Star, failing to tag him in a tweet acknowledging the latter’s presence at the game.
Maybe DeRozan’s signature laid-back attire did not do enough to draw attention to him, though Clippers sideline reporter Kristina Pink made sure to mention one of L.A.’s own.
Of course, fans noticed and while some took the Clippers to task for the glaring omission, others set their sights much higher. After all, there has been some thought that the Bulls could look to move the 33-year-old forward this offseason and, perhaps, a return home is in order.
“DeRozan to the clippers confirmed,” tweeted @Shenelle_Monet while another user went so far as to put a timeline on the potential matter.
DeRozan is heading into the final year of his contract and could be looking to contend sooner than the Bulls figure to be capable of making serious noise in the Eastern Conference. Another contract with the Bulls has not been ruled out but trading him could be their quickest path back to having that kind of future.
But DeRozan also dictated that “anyone under 24 [years old]” on the Bulls will have to join him in L.A. to train this offseason.
“It’s mandatory,” he said during his exit interview.
How Would a Clippers Trade for DeMar DeRozan Look?
The Clippers are down 2-1 versus Phoenix and are dealing with injuries to their top two stars, Paul George who will miss at least the rest of this series as well as Kawhi Leonard who sat out L.A.’s Game 3 loss. DeRozan – who made 74 appearances during the regular season – could be an insurance plan.
He did show an interest in joining them as a free agent in 2021 before the Bulls swooped in with a three-year, $81.9 million deal.
“DeMar DeRozan was preparing to meet with the Los Angeles Clippers about one hour before he came to terms with the Chicago Bulls,” reported Chris Haynes for Yahoo Sports’ ‘Posted Up Podcast’ in 2021. “Talks with the Bulls progressed to a deal for DeRozan and the Clippers were informed while they were in transit that a deal had been reached.”
DeRozan had preexisting ties to Bulls general manager Marc Eversley from their time together with the Toronto Raptors. But finding a deal that works under the current landscape could prove tricky for both sides.
Neither Covington nor Morris have been big parts of the Clippers’ plans so far.
Chicago could counter by asking for Eric Gordon whose $20 million salary next season is non-guaranteed. Or they could try to target swingman Norman Powell who will be going into the third year of his five-year, $90 million contract next season.
However, both of them have played crucial roles in keeping the Clippers in this series, particularly Powell who dropped 42 points off the bench in the Game 3 loss.
The Bulls Decision on DeMar DeRozan Could Be Telling
If the Bulls keep DeRozan, it would signal they are simply trying to ride it out with this current core and see what happens, similar to their plan coming into this past season. But trading him could signal a rebuild despite the best of intentions.
DeRozan has consistently spoken highly of his time in Chicago and the organization has spoken highly of him. The question goes beyond that, however, with the team taking a step back this season despite heightened expectations.
Chicago is treading water in a sea of mediocrity after pushing “continuity” this past offseason. However, they did close the regular season on a strong note with some semblance of a point guard on the roster in Patrick Beverley. And they were lethal with the still-injured Lonzo Ball at the controls.
Bulls executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas would have to address that issue to justify continuing to trot out the same core, including DeRozan.