The Chicago Bulls are taking very different approaches with their stars.
And then there is DeMar DeRozan, 33, the elder statesman and most individually accomplished player on the roster. He is a six-time All-Star, earning two trips with the Bulls including just this past season. But his ability to sustain his high level of play going into his 15th NBA season is only part of his appeal to the Bulls and why his name is not discussed as often in rumors.
“Everything I hear about DeRozan is they consider him almost untouchable given also his working relationship with the young players,” wrote Sam Smith of Bulls.com on June 30.
DeRozan’s efforts are so valued, the Bulls’ social media team put together a video montage.
DeRozan averaged 24.5 points, 5.1 assists, and 4.6 rebounds this past season. And, while he shot just 32.4% from the season, he began the season shooting 34.5% over the first 18 games of the regular season and shot 35.2% over his last 17 appearances as he nursed a leg injury.
He is heading into the final year of a three-year, $81.9 million contract and, though there were whispers of a potential second Bulls contract, nothing has materialized.
DeMar DeRozan’s Impact on Younger Players Shows
The front office’s stance on DeRozan is not shocking considering his offseason workouts started including Patrick Williams last offseason and have only grown in participation this offseason with second-year wing Dalen Terry joining the ranks while Coby White worked with DeRozan’s trainer, Johnny ‘Dribble2Much’ Stephene, last offseason.
White agreed to a three-year, $33 million contract with the Bulls on June 30 and could have the inside track on being the starting point guard next season.
The Bulls didn’t get a leap from Williams last season as he becomes extension eligible.
But his approach did seem improved and Terry, whom they got virtually nothing from as a rookie by design, could find many of the same benefits Williams did during his first experience with the “summer from hell” as DeRozan termed it at the end of the 2021-22 campaign.
Then, it was a request for Williams to join him. But this offseason it became a mandate for the younger Bulls from their vet.
Zac LaVine’s Status Cloudy at Best
DeRozan’s favor within the organization doesn’t necessarily mean anything for LaVine whom the former said was a big reason he wanted to come to the Bulls as a free agent in the summer of 2021. The two have had a rocky time co-existing on the court but remain friends off of it and are determined to fix their basketball synergy.
“Management still seems against trading either,” Smith noted later in the article.
That is consistent with reporting from NBC Sports Chicago Bulls insider K.C. Johnson’s latest update in the wake of Jevon Carter signing a three-year, $20 million contract with his hometown team in free agency.
Johnson cites LaVine’s contract – he has four years and more than $178 million owed to him after signing a five-year, $215 million contract last summer – and injury history as the Knicks’ primary concerns. LaVine, meanwhile, made 77 appearances last season which is his most as a Bull but is also said to have no interest in a trade to the Knicks for other reasons.
“Zach LaVine’s representatives would be against a deal to the Knicks,” wrote Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News on June 23. “A source said the LaVine camp isn’t interested in dealing with the Knicks, who have a reputation around the league of favoring clients of CAA.”
None of this would seem to rule out a trade elsewhere, though it does seem unlikely.