Another day, another Chicago Bulls trade rumor. And not the fun kind.
According to Bleacher Report’s Chris Haynes, executives around the league think DeMar DeRozan’s future in Chicago is in jeopardy. While a trade request isn’t believed to be imminent, the thought is that the five-time All-Star could look for a new home this offseason:
The Chicago Bulls are dealing with some dysfunction as it pertains to team chemistry and accountability while stationed 11th in the Eastern Conference standings (13-18). If matters don’t improve this season, rivals executives believe it could lead star guard DeMar DeRozan to request to be moved in the offseason, league sources tell Bleacher Report.
This obviously captured my attention at first glance, but the more I thought about what was really being said, the less dramatic I thought the news truly was.
All things considered, shouldn’t the expectation be that someone like DeRozan doesn’t want to play on an expiring contract? He’s performed well enough over the past two seasons to demand an extension, and I think it’s pretty common practice for a player of his caliber to question his future with a franchise if that demand isn’t meant.
Not to mention, DeRozan is headed toward 34 years old and his 15th NBA season. While he’s proven that he has plenty of elite-level basketball left in the tank, he’s undoubtedly going to want to be in a winning environment as he rounds out his career. If the Bulls can’t commit to him financially and stay in win-now mode, I’m not sure anyone could blame him for wanting to explore other opportunities.
Where things do get interesting, however, is when we start to think about a situation that isn’t so cut and dry. If the Bulls tank, then it’s easy to potentially see a world where they trade DeRozan, perhaps even before the offseason. If the Bulls turn things around, then it could be just as easy to see a world where they figure out an extension with DeRozan and keep trying to compete.
But what if the Bulls just tread water again? What if they want to re-sign DeRozan but can’t offer a clear glimpse into the future? Watching him demand a trade (which I do question if DeRozan would actually do) when you didn’t plan to move him would be an extremely frustrating situation. So this presents only more of a reason for the Bulls’ front office to establish a direction ASAP.
We keep talking about it, but the Bulls have to pick a lane. The sooner they decide to either tear it down or keep building, the more in control they’ll be of their own destiny. If Arturas Karnisovas sees a world where DeRozan is a key piece to the puzzle, then he simply must do whatever he can this season or in the offseason to add to this roster. Conversely, if he’s unsure about that fact or doesn’t want to pay what it would take to keep him, then he simply has to consider trading him ASAP.
DeRozan’s value could very well be the highest it’ll be for the rest of his career right now. He could be an incredibly useful trade chip when it comes to getting back legitimately intriguing young talent or draft compensation. Having said that, again, he could also still be a big part of what this organization is building. He’s an elite scorer with a game that should age gracefully and an even better locker-room presence. If the Bulls want him around for the long haul, they have to make that known.