The 2022-23 Chicago Bulls can only dream of reaching the same heights that the Golden State Warriors have over the last eight years. But that does not mean Bulls star DeMar DeRozan would be eager to join them.
DeRozan shot down the idea of playing with the Warriors on the July 28 episode of “The Draymond Green Show,” hosted by the titular Dubs enforcer.
While discussing languishing as a free agent last summer and then getting called the “worst signing of free agency” upon making a deal with the Bulls on August 12, DeRozan talked about questioning himself and falling into depression.
Green, who won a gold medal playing with DeRozan in the 2016 Olympics, said he knew then what Bulls fans and the rest of the NBA world would come to realize when DeRozan played All-Star-caliber basketball in 2021-22.
“It’s very interesting to me because, like you said, I feel like I’ve lived this with you all year. From last year in free agency and talking to you every day. … Then the conversation turn[ed] to, ‘Yo, come to the Warriors.’ And you’re like, ‘F*** no! I’m not coming there. I’m not coming to play with ya’ll.”
DeRozan didn’t respond directly to Green’s anecdote about his urging DeRozan to join the Warriors, but DeRozan did address his adjustment period with the Bulls.
Early in the season, he said, he felt as though he let down the city of Chicago after missing a shot that would’ve won a game for the Bulls. On October 28, in a home game against the New York Knicks, DeRozan entered the game with four seconds left and the Bulls down 104-103. He missed a 15-foot jump shot at the buzzer — and learned a lot in the process.
“The moment where I really realized like, you gotta bring it every single night in that arena, and I’ve never spoken this on nothing [in the] media,” DeRozan told Green. “I think we was four or five games into the season, we were playing the [New York] Knicks, and I took the game-winner. And I air-balled. I just felt the whole vibe of everything like, ‘What the f***?’ Like, ‘What was that?’ … I felt like I disrespected the aura of what these fans is used to seeing. I told myself I would never be in that situation again.”
He would go on to atone for his airball with an impressive season that garnered early MVP love and ended with him being named to the All-NBA second team. He started 76 games, averaging 27.9 points, 5.2 rebounds and 4.9 assists per game.
Before his comeback, though, DeRozan was potentially looking at being forced a pay cut after coming off of a max contract with the San Antonio Spurs. The vociferous Green called that speculation “baffling.”
But the Bulls ensured he didn’t have to accept a minimum, agreeing to pay him nearly $82 million over three years. DeRozan went on to do what Green hoped he would: prove his doubters wrong.
Building Something Special
One of the common refrains from DeRozan and the newly re-signed Zach LaVine has been their desire to continue building what they started last season. As Green explained, the Bulls dealt with a lot of injuries during the season.
But DeRozan remained in the lineup making the season a “special” one, Green said.
The Bulls have taken a lot of grief over their lack of splash moves this offseason. But there appears to be a strong belief inside the building in what they already have.
With all of the injuries they withstood, the optimism makes some sense in a vacuum.
But they do not operate within a vacuum and many of the teams in the Eastern Conference have gotten better this summer. It will be on DeRozan and LaVine to make sure this team doesn’t take too much of a step back and, for the Bulls’ sake, takes a step forward.