Bulls’ DeMar DeRozan Gets Honest About Lakers Amid Return From Injury

DeMar DeRozan, Chicago Bulls

Getty DeMar DeRozan #11 of the Chicago Bulls.

It will be just another game for Chicago Bulls star DeMar DeRozan when he takes on the Lakers in Los Angeles – some 18 months removed from thinking he was going to join them.

“They see it. I don’t think it’s my main motivation,” DeRozan said, per NBC Sports Chicago Bulls insider K.C. Johnson. “There’s always a motivation factor just because it’s home. I love coming home, playing against any historic team regardless. It’s not like I’m upset and, ‘Oh, I gotta get y’all back.’ I’m just excited to go play in whatever they call it—the Crypto?”

The Lakers pivoted to Russell Westbrook, DeRozan to the Bulls and the rest is recent history.

Westbrook is now a member of the Lakers’ rival, the Los Angeles Clippers – whom the Bulls will face in between their home-and-home with the Lakers – while DeRozan made his second straight All-Star game representing Chicago.

“There was a choice they had in the offseason between Buddy Hield, Russell Westbrook, and DeMar DeRozan,” reported ESPN NBA insider Ramona Shelburne during an appearance on ‘NBA Today’ in February of 2022. “The Lakers chose Westbrook, and LeBron and AD were part of that choice. But…DeMar DeRozan never got to that point because the Lakers were unwilling to go to 3 years…on a new contract for DeMar.”

DeRozan signed a three-year, $81.9 million deal with the Bulls and helped the franchise snap a five-year playoff drought.

The Lakers have internally discussed acquiring DeRozan since then.

DeRozan’s 2021 free agency will forever be remembered for how some outlets considered his contract among if not the worst in the NBA. It was also a common practice to question his on-court fit alongside Zach LaVine. Flash forward to now and the DeRozan-LaVine combo ranks just outside the top third in the NBA, per Cleaning The Glass.

DeMar DeRozan Details Latest Injury Scare

DeRozan missed the Bulls’ win over the Portland Trail Blazers on March 24 but made the trip out West, so his return was more of a “when” than an “if” situation.

“Everything’s a go. Regular-scheduled programming. It was just really sore after those three marathons that I ran. But I’m good, got a lot of treatment these last couple days—ice, recovery.

“I’ve been feeling it since January. I just find ways to get through most of the games. Just that game was the worst as far as soreness. It takes a lot for me to sit out a game. I just wanted to take care of it these last couple days and get rid of the soreness.”

DeRozan, 33, first exited the Bulls’ loss to the Boston Celtics on January 11 in the third quarter after tweaking his leg. At the time, he said he had been feeling soreness in the leg for some time already. He sat out the next three games and made it nine straight before having the issue flare up again forcing him to miss three of their final six games before the All-Star break.

He was making his 13th straight appearance when the leg started bothering him again.

His scoring has dropped, going from 26.4 points per game before aggravating the injury to 23.5 since. But his efficiency has improved going from 59.5% true shooting to 59.9%; a small improvement but an improvement nonetheless.

After missing six games last season, DeRozan has missed seven so far this season with an issue Bulls head coach Billy Donovan admits he will have to manage the rest of the season.

A DeMar DeRozan-D’Angelo Russell Swap Making the Rounds

“One rumor making the (media) round these days has been a Lakers/Bulls deal with a sign and trade, D’Angelo Russell for DeRozan,” writes Sam Smith of NBA.com. “DeRozan long has expressed a desire to finish at home in LA, LeBron [James] likes him…and Russell is an excellent three-point shooter and a point guard. And if [Lonzo] Ball can return, either could play off the ball.”

The machinations of such a deal perhaps make it less likely than some other possibilities.

But the idea of sending DeRozan off to his hometown squad to potentially chase a title while shoring up a problem area for the Bulls would be far from the worst possible outcome.

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