In his first action since exiting early against Boston two weeks ago, DeMar DeRozan scored 26 alongside Zach Lavine’s 30 to lead the Bulls to a victorious trip overseas. In the franchise’s first regular season action outside of North America and their first trip to Paris since the 1997 preseason, Chicago took down Detroit 126-108 to cap off an illustrious trip. Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times sat down with the Bulls’ superstar, and he provided some insight as to what the Bulls could and should do with the trade deadline rapidly approaching. DeRozan’s response may contradict what most recent murmurs and ghost trails have alluded to.
Roller-Coaster Of A First Half
DeRozan admitted that the first half of the season has been less than desired and that there’s still a lot of ground to make up from the lackluster first few months of the year. In his second season with the Bulls, he’s still got faith they can overcome the early struggles.
“We had a helluva first half with lots of ups and downs, now it’s time to turn everything we went through into a positive. We’re right there. It’s a great opportunity this week to take it one game at a time and write our own story. That’s all we can worry about.”DeMar DeRozan via Joe Cowley of Chicago Sun-Times
This message echoes the tone that DeRozan had talked of earlier this season; amid one of their most challenging stretches in December, he said, “every great story begins with some sort of adversity.” That level of patience and tenacity shows why the 14-year veteran is the leader of this club on and off the court. The opportunity this week that he is referring to is the next four games. Starting with the Atlanta Hawks at home, which the Bulls had just defeated a few weeks prior, followed by three sub-.500 teams, including two of the three worst records in the Eastern Conference. At 21-24, in the 10th slot in the East, they can start to chip away at the three-and-a-half-game deficit to the six seed and safety from the play-in scenario.
The Bulls Are “Right There”
DeRozan was adamant that Chicago’s got everything they need in-house when asked about the trade deadline looming soon.
“Everybody else in the league is going to do what they feel is best for them. I Feel like, for us, we’re right there. We have to take advantage of the opportunity that’s in front of us.”DeMar DeRozan via Joe Cowley of Chicago Sun-Times
With the 8-3 record before his injury, losing three straight in his absence, and now back-to-back victories with DeRozan firmly back in the rotation, he may be onto something. This team has figured something out in the past 20 or so games, and much of it is due to the drastic improvements from Nikola Vucevic and Zach Lavine. Finally playing like the all-stars they once were, Lavine and Vucevic’s recent play has punched this trio’s ticket into the conversation of one of the best ‘Big Threes’ in the entire NBA. Despite DeRozan being the only Chicago Bull on any fan installments of the all-star voting, all three are now playing at an elite level with the best of them.
If any trade prospects were to surface, the most likely would be the Indiana Pacers, New York Knicks, or Dallas Mavericks. With Indiana losing seven straight without their rising star Tyrese Haliburton and rapidly dropping from the playoff picture combined with Myles Turner’s expiring contract after this season, it may be the perfect opportunity to get some value out of their big man before free agency hits. As for New York and Dallas, fringe playoff teams one or two pieces away from entering contender status, they have been vocal about looking for cheap and quality depth pieces. Enter Chicago’s underwhelming young talent, Coby White or Patrick Williams, who should be dealt for either draft capital or aging talent that could contribute to the newly refurbished ‘Big Three’ in the Windy City.
DeRozan’s take on the deadline and tone of this team headed into the all-star break is uplifting to hear, but much like the entire season, it’s about the results on the court. This four-game stretch could be the deciding factor in whether or not the Bulls’ front office decides to be active during the trade deadline or ride the season out as currently constructed. They’ll look to defend the United Center tonight before heading out east for the most crucial three-game road trip of the 2022-23′ campaign.