On Sunday night, DeMar DeRozan led the Chicago Bulls in scoring as the team remained undefeated in the preseason. While DeRozan hasn’t exploded for a huge performance in the exhibitions, you can see his style is going to mesh well with Lonzo Ball, Zach LaVine and Nikola Vucevic.
The Bulls seem pleased with the acquisition of DeRozan, which came via sign-and-trade with the San Antonio Spurs. The deal almost didn’t happen as it appears DeRozan’s first choice was to play in his hometown.
On behalf of the Los Angeles Lakers, LeBron James tried to recruit DeRozan to play with him this season. According to DeRozan, who talked about the situation with Shams Charania on Inside The Association (h/t Laker Central): things just never came together.
DeRozan was asked about his conversations with James and the Lakers. DeRozan said the talks went great. He called the chance to play at home in L.A. a great opportunity, but he said, “it just didn’t work out.”
Things can change quickly in the business, says DeRozan.
What Prevented DeMar DeRozan From Signing With the Lakers?
DeRozan grew up in Compton, California rooting for the Lakers. Signing with L.A. to play with James and Anthony Davis seems like a no-brainer. What stopped it from happening?
Mike Chiari of Bleacher Report believes it was the Lakers’ mega trade to add Russell Westbrook from the Washington Wizards. Chiari wrote:
DeRozan was likely referring to the Lakers’ acquisition of 2017 MVP Russell Westbrook in a trade that sent Kyle Kuzma, Montrezl Harrell and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope to the Washington Wizards on Aug. 6. That deal left no room for DeRozan’s salary, leading to him getting moved from the San Antonio Spurs to the Bulls in a sign-and-trade just five days later.
That would make sense, and it would also imply the Lakers preferred Westbrook as a third star with Davis and James over DeRozan.
How Many Wins Can the Bulls Collect in 2021-22?
Before the preseason began, it was tough to find people willing to give the new-look Bulls any love. After two blowouts and another preseason win, the flighty NBA universe might be constructing a bandwagon to hop on if the Bulls can carry the momentum into the regular season.
Still, the early projections weren’t complimentary.
Andrew Miller of Pippen Ain’t Easy scoffed at an ESPN projection that puts the Bulls as a 40-42 win team. Miller wrote:
Head coach Billy Donovan and the Bulls should be able to have a floor of 42 or 43 wins, in a bad scenario, next season. This piece predicted the Bulls to finish up the regular season with a record of 40-42, which would put the team in position to contend for a spot in the play-in tournament. That record of 40-42 also puts the Bulls with the same win percentage as the likes of the Indiana Pacers and Charlotte Hornets. It is clear ahead of the start of Training Camp and the preseason that the Bulls do have more talent on the roster than both the Pacers and Hornets. The bench for the Bulls is also pretty deep heading into next season. And even if this roster can gel together decently well at the outset of the regular season, this team should very likely finish ahead of the Pacers and Hornets in the standings.
Defense has been the biggest key to the Bulls’ strong preseason. Through three games, Chicago is averaging 12.4 steals and 8 blocked shots per game. It’s still preseason, but the effort and energy is there. If the Bulls can continue to play with the same purpose on defense, they will blow past the low-ball expectations.
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