Fast forward to now and the Lakers’ renewed interest may no longer be mutual.
“DeRozan … is considered very likely to be on the move before the deadline passes,” Sam Amick of The Athletic wrote on December 1. “When it comes to possible destinations, the Heat and Knicks are known to be preferable to DeRozan if he winds up getting moved.”
The 34-year-old DeRozan is off to a slow start. He is also dealing with a sprained ankle that knocked him out of the Bulls’ last game. But he has been durable in his two-plus seasons in Chicago and is coming off back-to-back All-Star campaigns. In the final year of a three-year, $81.9 million contract, extension talks have gone quiet, per Shams Charania of The Athletic.
“The sides are apart right now on multiple fronts,” Charania said on FanDuel TV’s “Run It Back” on October 26. “Also DeMar DeRozan wants to see where this Bulls team goes.”
Chicago is 6-14, upsetting the Milwaukee Bucks without DeRozan on November 30.
DeRozan would have chosen the Knicks over the Bulls if the former matched the latter’s contract offer, per Marc Berman for the New York Post in February of 2022.
Lakers Interested in Trio of Bulls
“In conversations I’ve had in recent weeks regarding the Bulls, there is real interest in Zach LaVine. But I think it comes at the right price,” Buha said on the “Hoops Tonight” podcast on November 28. “I’ve actually heard that they’re more interested in DeMar DeRozan and Alex Caruso.”
DeRozan is on a cheaper contract than LaVine, who is in Year 2 of a five-year, $215 million contract. He also has a less severe injury history despite having much more mileage on his body.
Caruso is in Year 3 of a four-year, $36.9 million pact and is a known commodity to the Lakers.
Whichever route the Lakers take, they need to tread water for a little while longer before they can act.
Lakers Must Practice Patience
“[The Lakers] don’t want to give up too much in terms of our depth and draft capital and are limited of course in when they can give up certain players,” Buha continued. “And then on top of that, they don’t have much draft capital to include anyway.”
That complicates matters amid cryptic comments from LeBron James about what needs to happen to correct the Lakers’ inconsistency.
But the Bulls are also intent on moving LaVine before making any other moves.
“League sources said that … [Bulls executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas] Karnišovas is responding to inquiries on other players by saying he wants to see what the roster looks like post-LaVine trade first,” wrote NBC Sports Chicago Bulls insider K.C. Johnson on November 29.
The Lakers want to see what they can become before shaking up the roster again, per Buha. And, with more than two months until the trade deadline in February, they still have some breathing room to do just that.