The Chicago Bulls are coming off a successful season as they made the playoffs for the first time in five seasons. A huge part of the Bulls’ success this season was the signing of five-time All-Star DeMar DeRozan last summer.
DeRozan had one of the best seasons of his career in his first with the Bulls as he averaged 27.9 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 4.9 assists per game. His performance earned him All-NBA second-team recognition as he carried the Bulls through an injury-riddled season.
His performance this season clearly caught the eyes of Nike as the shoe company re-signed DeRozan to a new four-year deal on Monday. According to Shams Charania, the contract means that DeRozan will remain the featured face of the Kobe Bryant line.
DeRozan has worn Kobe’s shoes for most of his career and has praised him in the past for being his idol and mentor.
“Someone that taught me a big part of the game and motivated me to have the mentality that I have today,” DeRozan said. “Just with that alone, it should speak for itself on what he meant to me and what today meant.”
Vanessa Bryant Speaks Out
After Charania reported the news of the DeRozan signing Bryant’s wife Vanessa replied in some now deleted tweets saying that no one is the face of the line.
In another deleted comment, Bryant offered a further explanation.
“LOVE that he’s a Kobe supporter but the caption is false. It’s misinformation. Only Kobe is the face of his line. If that changes in the future, then I’m sure Nike and I will release a statement announcing it.”
For now, the comments have been deleted and there have been no further comments from DeRozan, Bryant, or Nike.
With the summer starting to wind down many Bulls players are continuing to work on their games. NBC Sports Chicago Bulls reporter K.C. Johnson tweeted on Monday that several players are out in Los Angeles working out together this week according to Johnson, DeRozan, Zach LaVine, Alex Caruso, Patrick Williams, Coby White, and Ayo Dosunmu are all planning to work out together. Lonzo Ball is also doing his rehab in Los Angeles but it’s unclear if he’ll join the rest of his teammates.
If Ball is able to work out with his teammates it could be a positive sign of his progress towards being ready for training camp. Ball has been out since he injured his knee in early January.
Prior to the injury the Bulls were 27-13 and in first place in the Eastern Conference. After Ball went down the Bulls finished the season 19-23 and dropped to the sixth seed in the conference.
Ball’s status heading into the season could have major implications on the Bulls’ success this season. It also could affect the teams thinking on possibly making a trade to help deal with the potential absence.
The Bulls do have depth at point guard with Goran Dragic, Dosunmu, and White but none of them have the same impact on the defensive end of the floor as Ball.