That will continue to be the case until they name a starter, a decision that will not come before a training camp battle that will include Alex Caruso as well as Ayo Dosunmu, Jevon Carter, and Coby White, per head coach Billy Donovan. But a surprise contender may have just thrown his name into the competition.
“I’m about to compete for the point guard position,” DeMar DeRozan said jokingly on media day on October 2. “I’m trying to beat one of those guys out. So they gotta worry about me from that standpoint.”
DeRozan went on to say the Bulls have a “hell of a group” vying for that job next season.
That doesn’t mean we won’t see DeRozan operate as more of a facilitator this season, something he did after suffering a lower-body injury last season.
“Don’t be surprised to see DeRozan’s scoring take a small dip and his assists average rise, a la his San Antonio Spurs days,” wrote NBC Sports Chicago Bulls insider K.C. Johnson on September 29.
But DeRozan says the four guards have the capability to fill the role.
“It’s going to be a great fun week just working with those guys just seeing what meshes well with the starting five, with the second group, and a combination of both with those guys. Because any one of those guys can be on the court with any one of those guys or us, whatever it may be. So the challenge, understanding the compete level those guys have, it’s definitely gonna be fun.”
DeRozan commended Patrick Williams and Dalen Terry who he said “went through it” with him during their training sessions this offseason. That work is one of the reasons the Bulls want to re-sign him after his three-year, $81.9 million contract expires after this season if not sooner.
General Manager Marc Eversley made that abundantly clear.
“For me, it’s all about understanding what we can do to win, how I can win. Obviously, this is a place I want to be,” DeRozan asserted. “It’s a great place so you can take that out of the equation. It’s just working out whatever makes sense from there for both sides. And I let [the front office and his agents] handle that, and I just control what I can control.”
DeRozan – who turned 34 years old in August – is eligible to sign a four-year extension worth roughly $179 million, per Johnson.
DeMar DeRozan Weighs In on Revamped Eastern Conference
The Bulls were rumored to be interested in Damian Lillard, per Kyle Nuebeck of PHLY Sports on September 20. Nothing ever materialized and the Portland Trail Blazers traded him to the Milwaukee Bucks for a package that included Jrue Holiday.
Chicago was among the teams believed to be viewed as suitable landing spots by Holiday, per Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald on September 28.
“I love it,” DeRozan said twice. “The competition level should bring the best out of you to be able to want to compete against that. … I love it from a competitive standpoint and from a fan standpoint.”
Later, when asked why fans should think this season will be any different for the Bulls than the last two seasons given that this roster has largely remained the same while the rest of the conference has made significant changes, DeRozan was jokingly defiant.
“Third time is the charm,” DeRozan said.