The Bulls might be heading toward a bit of a teardown.
In mid-November, The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported that there is “increased openness” from Zach LaVine and the Bulls on a trade. Additionally, there are questions surrounding DeMar DeRozan, who is in the final season of his contract and “not close” with the franchise on extension talks.
According to Charania, DeRozan wants to see what direction the Bulls are going in. His future in Chicago is said to be uncertain.
DeRozan has had an up-and-down start to the 2023-24 season, but he’s been an All-Star in each of the last two seasons. He also earned an All-NBA Second Team selection in 2021-22, averaging a career-best 27.9 points per game to go along with 5.2 rebounds and 4.9 assists.
If the Bulls explore DeRozan trades, which teams should be interested?
DeMar DeRozan trade destinations
Los Angeles Lakers
DeRozan thought he was going to be a Laker in 2021. Instead, the Lakers traded for Russell Westbrook, leading DeRozan to the Bulls.
DeRozan would check the same sort of boxes for the Lakers that LaVine would. The Lakers have had a below-average offense to start the 2023-24 season and have been far too reliant on a 38-year-old LeBron James. DeRozan isn’t the 3-point shooter that LaVine is, but he’s a better passer and still a strong scorer.
The Lakers might have an easier time trading for DeRozan than LaVine. DeRozan is six years older, set to be an unrestricted free agent in the offseason and making almost $12 million less than LaVine. D’Angelo Russell and either Rui Hachimura or Gabe Vincent get the Lakers to DeRozan’s number.
One obstacle the Lakers face is Russell, Hachimura and Vincent have restrictions in their contracts. If they and the Bulls are interested in making that kind of deal with some sort of draft compensation included — the Lakers can offer a first-round pick in either 2029 or 2030 — it can’t be done until Jan. 15.
The James Harden trade set the 76ers to make a big move. DeRozan would be an interesting addition, giving them a big-time scorer to pair with Tyrese Maxey and Joel Embiid.
The 76ers only have three players under contract for next season. Trading for DeRozan wouldn’t mess with their cap space, as he’ll be an unrestricted free agent in the offseason. The 76ers could pair Marcus Morris and Nicolas Batum, for example, both of whom are also going to be free agents in the offseason. The draw for the Bulls would be getting however many draft picks would have to be included to get the deal done.
A DeRozan trade would give the 76ers a few months to see if he could help get them over the hump in an Eastern Conference that looks questionable outside of the Celtics. If he does, they could run it back by re-signing him in the offseason. If he doesn’t, they could pivot and target someone else in free agency.
Because the 76ers recently acquired them, Morris and Batum can’t be traded until Dec. 30. The same restriction applies to Robert Covington and KJ Martin.
The Heat lost some firepower in the offseason with Max Strus signing with the Cavaliers and Gabe Vincent signing with the Lakers. Ideally, the Heat would surround Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo with a better shooter, but DeRozan would give them a jolt offensively.
The Heat have a couple of ways they could get a DeRozan deal done. Tyler Herro and DeRozan are making similar money, making that the cleanest option. Giving up Herro, the Heat’s second-leading scorer who is under contract through 2026-27, for someone who could walk in the offseason is, of course, risky, so they might be more inclined to build a package around either Kyle Lowry or Duncan Robinson.
The Heat currently have two first-round picks to play with — 2028 and 2030.
DeRozan’s time in Toronto didn’t end on the best of terms, but we’re now six years and two coaching changes removed from him being a Raptor.
There’s certainly an argument to be made that the Raptors would be better off being patient and shifting their focus toward building around Scottie Barnes, who is back to looking like a future star. But if they are hoping to be more competitive this season, DeRozan could help their offense, which continues to be a grind in the halfcourt.
Where it gets complicated is that it’s hard to imagine the Raptors parting ways with either Pascal Siakam or O.G. Anunoby for DeRozan considering his age and looming free agency, in which case they’re probably looking at building an offer around Gary Trent Jr.’s salary and draft picks.
The Raptors already have a lot of overlap with Siakam, Anunoby and Barnes. Adding DeRozan would only complicate that issue.
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New York Knicks
The Knicks deserve mention because, like the 76ers, they have the means to pursue a star like DeRozan and could be looking to take advantage of some of the uncertainty in the Eastern Conference.
The Knicks have young players who may be of interest to the Bulls in RJ Barrett, Immanuel Quickley and Quentin Grimes. If they’re off limits, the Knicks could make a pick-heavy offer built around the contract of Evan Fournier, who is making $18.8 million this season.
DeRozan, Jalen Brunson and Julius Randle wouldn’t be the cleanest of fits — they’re each at their best with the ball in their hands, and DeRozan and Randle don’t offer much spacing — but they would give the Knicks quite a bit of firepower.
DeMar DeRozan contract details
DeRozan signed a three-year, $81.9 million contract with the Bulls in 2021. He’s on the books for $28.6 million this season and will be an unrestricted free agent in the offseason.
DeMar DeRozan career stats
- 21.0 points per game
- 4.4 rebounds per game
- 4.0 assists per game
- 1.0 steals per game
- 0.3 blocks per game
- 2.1 turnovers per game
- 46.7 percent field goal shooting
- 29.2 percent 3-point shooting
- 84.0 percent free throw shooting
Source : ESPN.com