DeMar DeRozan Raises Eyebrows With Comments on Potential Bulls Exit

DeMar DeRozan, Chicago Bulls

Getty DeMar DeRozan #11 of the Chicago Bulls.

Chicago Bulls star DeMar DeRozan wants to return next season.

He just wrapped a three-year, $81.9 million contract and continues to speak highly of his time with the organization and in the city.

At the same time, DeRozan wants to win. The Bulls were also not his first choice in free agency in 2021. With what could be his last shot at a big payday, could DeRozan prioritize pursuit of a championship over cashing in one more time?

More directly, would he pursue that opportunity if it also meant going home?

“You can’t never say no about playing home, especially for playing for a historic team like the Lakers. So time will tell. We’ll see where the cards fall,” DeRozan said on FanDuel TV’s “Run It Back” on May 15. “Until then, I’ll see what happens. I always want to be where I’m wanted. I know what I’m gonna do from there, so we’ll see how it play out.”

DeRozan, a self-proclaimed “Kobe [Bryant] guy” and “Laker fan since Day 1,” finished this past season second in Kia Clutch Player of the Year voting.

He’s also been an integral part of the organization’s developmental process and the community. But DeRozan also spoke candidly about feeling the drain of this past season at the final whistle and how he doesn’t want to play for “25 years.”

DeMar DeRozan: Bulls Have ‘Unfinished Business’

“Hate missed opportunities,” DeRozan told reporters after the Bulls’ Play-In Tournament loss to the Miami Heat on April 19. “I gotta go home and see the first round of the playoffs, second round of the playoffs. It’s frustrating.”

It was the second consecutive season the Heat kept the Bulls out of the playoffs.

The Bulls have made the postseason just one time in DeRozan’s three years in Chicago. They were bounced in five games in their lone appearance, versus the Milwaukee Bucks in 2021-22.

After six straight seasons with playoff appearances beginning in 2013-14 and running through the 2018-19 campaign, DeRozan’s teams have made the postseason just one time in the last five campaigns.

DeRozan’s reaction drew plenty of attention, with some fans seeing an opportunity for DeRozan to come home. He has been healthy, logging the 12th-most regular season games since the streak ended.

Despite that, DeRozan continues to say he is content in Chicago and expresses his desire to return to the Bulls in free agency.

“It’s definitely somewhere I like to return to,” DeRozan said. “When the job ain’t done with me … no matter the how tough the situation may look, I’m one of those guys that try to stick it through and try to make something out of nothing. And the city is great; I love the city. The organization been great, so it’s definitely a place I would love to return to and just take care of unfinished business.”

DeMar DeRozan Softened on Seeking Lakers Tenure

The Bulls were not DeRozan’s first choice in free agency in 2021. He also had an interest in at least the Lakers and New York Knicks. He even spoke about believing he would be a Laker before they traded for Russell Westbrook instead.

Since then, DeRozan has said that he is no longer bent on playing for his hometown team as he once was.

He cited his experience in Chicago as part of his reasoning.

“I used to feel like that,” DeRozan said on “Podcast P with Paul George” in May 2023. “Honestly, I really used to feel like that. Just to see what it’s like to experience it. But I’m at a stage to where I’m okay now if I don’t. It’s not the ultimate desire of mine, you know what I mean? Because it’s like, the love that I’m able to bring back here and receive from being here too, it’s just it’s just as fulfilling to me.

“I used to think like, ‘Man, I gotta play at home so I can see what it’s like,’ right? You know what I mean? But it’s like, I get it from both ways now. From home and I’m able to represent home from where I’m playing, right? You know what I mean? So, no, I don’t feel like that no more.”

Perhaps the possibility was too far off to be concerned with. DeRozan could have had a change of heart or simply be leveraging potential interest to ensure his payday.