One of the more surprising rumors around the March 25th trade deadline connected the Chicago Bulls to veteran wing DeMar DeRozan.
On an expiring contract in San Antonio, DeRozan was considered a possible weapon for teams looking for a playoff surge. The Bulls were one of those teams, but adding a ball-dominant wing player with a weak outside shot sure felt like an odd pairing with Zach LaVine.
Of course, the Bulls went on to land Nikola Vucevic and all eyes turned to the hole at point guard, which meant practically any and all talk about DeRozan was practically over before it started. But guess who’s back?
According to Marc J. Spears of ESPN, DeRozan is still on the Bulls’ radar. Spears said on Monday’s episode of The Jump that the Bulls along with the Lakers, Clippers, Spurs, and Knicks are showing interest in the four-time All-Star.
Marc J. Spears on DeMar DeRozan’s impending free agency: pic.twitter.com/I1vDTT6vVr
— Noah Magaro-George (@N_Magaro) July 26, 2021
DeRozan, 31, personally spoke about his free agency in a discussion with Shannon Sharpe on this week’s edition of the Club Shay Shay Podcast. During that conversation, DeRozan was open about the fact that this offseason was “all about winning.” One has to wonder whether or not DeRozan would view Chicago as a place where that can happen. The team does have two All-Stars in Zach LaVine and Nikola Vucevic, but there is still no proven product to sell.
We also have to wonder how strong the Bulls’ interest in DeRozan might actually be. While he would provide experience and a winning mentality, the concerns we touched on above are still very real. DeRozan has also long been “the guy” while on the floor throughout his career. His usage rating has never dropped below the 96th percentile over his last eight seasons in the league, per Cleaning the Glass. DeRozan has also struggled at times to play efficient basketball, posting an underwhelming 50.5 effective field goal percentage last season. Oh, and we can’t fail to mention that he is a sub-par defender.
Now, to DeRozan’s credit, he still averaged 21.6 points with 4.2 rebounds and 6.9 assists last season. His playmaking, specifically, has taken a massive step in the right direction. The 7.1 assists per 36 minutes in 2020-21 was by far a career-high, and that willingness to pass the ball could go a long way toward helping him thrive in a less significant role. DeRozan has also always been someone who does a good job getting the free-throw line. The Bulls ranked dead last in free-throw attempts per game last season, and DeRozan has found his way to the line for 7.0 or more attempts per game in six of his last eight seasons.
Still, the idea of spending a lot of money on DeRozan feels … odd. The team desperately needs 3-point shooting, perimeter defense, and playmaking, but DeRozan has only recently excelled in one of those categories. I don’t doubt this move could help the Bulls make the playoffs next season, but the long-term outlook would be questionable. Anyway, we’ll keep an eye on this.