DeRozan Doesn't Want the Easy Route, Who's Left? 2022 Free Agency, and Other Bulls Bullets

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DeRozan Doesn’t Want the Easy Route, Who’s Left? 2022 Free Agency, and Other Bulls Bullets

Chicago Bulls

I’ll be around today if anything breaks, but I will also be cross-contaminating my sports intake with a trip to Bears training camp. Don’t worry, I’ll ask Justin Fields if he can play backup power forward.

•   To say the NBA world was surprised when DeMar DeRozan inked a three-year deal with the Chicago Bulls would be an understatement. Not only was the price tag more than anyone expected, but people envisioned DeRozan signing with one of his hometown teams. The Compton native had legitimate interest from both the Los Angeles Lakers and Clippers. Sure, neither of the two franchises could offer him the kind of money the Bulls could, but they could offer him a homecoming he might very well deem priceless. Not to mention, the 32-year-old harped that winning was his main pursuit at this point in his career. With established superstars on both LA rosters, there is no question a winning record would be in the four-time All-Stars future.

•   The Chicago Bulls somehow trumped that appeal, though. Again, the price tag surely played a role, but executive general manager Marc Eversley also must have sold the savvy veteran on an encouraging vision. DeRozan made very clear he wanted to win, and Chicago is an organization that has averaged 25 wins over the past four seasons. So why was he so eager to make things work in Chicago? After all, he didn’t even decide to hear out a team like the Clippers, who were reportedly on their way to DeRozan’s house when Eversley convinced him to come to the Windy City. Well, I guess it was the challenge. On an episode of the No Studio’N podcast last week, DeRozan spoke about what made Chicago feel like the right place to be.

It goes back to that same mentality in high school. Everybody wants to be home, I’d be lying if I told you – I wanted to come home. I was trying to make it work but some things don’t go all the way how you want it to go. So looking at Chicago, it was one of those, another opportunity, we can make something shake. This sh*t be bigger, you know what I mean? It can be bigger than what anyone expected. That’s what you kind of live for. You don’t want the easy route or the expected route. Give me the tough route. Let me make this sh*t look easy.

•   Not only do I love that mentality, but it is one this franchise desperately needs. The Chicago Bulls need players who see the allure of turning the tide. They need players who have a chip on their shoulders and who are not afraid to put the city on their backs. DeRozan wants to win, but he wants to be a part of laying the new foundation.

•   Also, I think DeRozan’a excitement continues to speak volumes to the front office’s sales tactics. Instead of acting better than they were, the organization was clear about where they were. Arturas Karnisovas and Eversley did not try to sell DeRozan on the past but rather on the present. They were clear that while things may not be in the best shape right now, this is still one of the most special basketball cities in the country. Win here, and it’s arguably more special than winning anywhere.

•   If you want to get a better feel for DeRozan as a person, and what his hometown city still means to him, listen to the podcast below:

•   If my count is correct, the Chicago Bulls still have three roster spots left to fill. The organization can technically walk into next season after adding only two new faces thanks to a trade exception that can be used at later date, but we’ll see which path they choose. All we do know is that the options on the open market are thinning, so there might be even more pressure on the outcome of this Lauri Markkanen situation. Can they fill a need with a player like Dallas’ Maxi Kleber in return? Or are they still pushing for draft capital? Or have they been drinking mimosas and high-fiving so much that they forgot Markkanen was even still on the team? So many questions. 

•   If the team does find a way to sign-and-trade the big man, one has to wonder whether or not Paul Millsap enters the mix. A 36-year-old who has spent his last four seasons in Denver, he still appears to have some winning basketball left in the tank, especially if it came in a reserve role. Not to mention, it could not hurt to add another veteran leader to this completely revamped locker room.

•   Speaking of free agents, Bleacher Report listed out the top-30 2022 NBA free agents. Zach LaVine checked in at No. 4 right behind James Harden, Bradley Beal, and Kyrie Irving. Harden and Irving, however, could still find themselves with an extension before next season, which would leave Beal and LaVine as the top-2 gets. In general, next year’s class is not stuffed with top-tier talent, and that could be part of the reason why the Bulls acted as aggressively as they did to fill holes this summer.

•   Agreed.

•   This dude is 6’3″ and has his head above the rim. Yeesh.

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Author: Elias Schuster

Elias Schuster is the Lead Bulls Writer at Bleacher Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @Schuster_Elias.