Chicago Bulls Put Chips in the Center Of Table with DeMar DeRozan Deal

Arturas Karnisovas, Marc Eversley, and the Chicago Bulls new front office took a slow approach to their inaugural offseason. They drafted Patrick Williams and signed Garrett Temple. Then, they brought back most of the roster after a disappointing 2019-20 season for an evaluation. They realized quickly that it was time for a change. The Bulls made several trades before the deadline, and acquired Nikola Vucevic as a partner with Zach LaVine.

Chicago has been aggressive throughout the offseason. Eversley and Karnisovas quickly restructured this team with bold, win-now moves. On Day 1 it was Lonzo Ball and Alex Caruso, and on Day 2 it was DeMar DeRozan in a sign-and-trade deal with the San Antonio Spurs.

At first glance, the Bulls gave up a good amount for the right to give the soon-to-be 32-year-old DeRozan a fully guaranteed three-year, $85 million deal. Chicago is sending Thaddeus Young, Al-Farouq Aminu, a protected first-round draft pick likely conveying in 2025 and a pair of second-round picks (2022, 2025) to San Antonio.

DeRozan’s market and the level of competition for his services by the Bulls are not known. According to reports, he also spoke with the Los Angeles Clippers Tuesday. Chicago decided to make all of this known to DeRozan, regardless of the circumstances. It may not look like a good deal in a vacuum, but in the grand scheme of things, the Bulls clearly wanted to continue their win-now push and acted like a big-market team to make it happen. They secured two deals with the biggest names in the market, and took a major role player from the Los Angeles Lakers.

Cashing in on so many assets in a core without a superstar is a risky move. The Bulls could end up as an average playoff team within an evolving Eastern Conference. The Bulls could add this talent to make a leap from an average playoff team, but it would take four years and a lot of pain after rebuilding the Bulls after they traded Jimmy Butler. It would be crucial to figure out how you can get in the top tier. Although the current shortage of draft capital may hinder these efforts, there are a lot of high-quality players on the roster which should help move this team forward.

DeRozan’s potential contributions to the court are impressive. He just finished a great season with the Spurs, where he scored 21.6 points and 6.9 assists, grabbed 4.2 rebounds, shot 49.5%, and had a career year. While his 3-point shooting is not great and his defense is average at best are both noticeable, DeRozan’s improved playmaking skills and ability to score from the free-throw line should help the Bulls. In 2020-21, he averaged seven free-throw attempts per game. With 17.5, Chicago was the last city to have 17 free throws per game. DeRozan is able to get buckets even if he doesn’t have a 3-pointer.

Ball, LaVine and DeRozan are now the Bulls’ starting line-up. This is a powerful group that has a lot to offer, including Troy Brown Jr., Coby White and Ayo Tosunmu. Lauri Markkanen’s fate remains to be determined. Marko Simonovic, 2020 second round pick, is likely to be added to the roster. Chicago has many opportunities to grow the team. The Bulls still need depth in both the frontcourt and wing. A rim protector for the frontcourt would be a great addition to the Bulls.

LaVine will not be allowed to leave, so there won’t be any excuses for the Bulls to make it to the playoffs. The East has improved but these Bulls moves were made to win many games and reach the playoffs. Not just in the play-in tourney. With this level of talent, it’s reasonable to assume they will win the series.

These aggressive moves are not something the Bulls’ front office will be easing into. Although there aren’t any guarantees, it is refreshing to see the Bulls go after their recent troubles with Gar Forman and John Paxson.

Now it’s time to see the court results.

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