Headed for unrestricted free agency this summer, many believed DeMar DeRozan would be shipped to a contender for future draft capital this week. Several reports have surfaced throughout the year that DeRozan’s camp and the Bulls have not found common ground regarding a contract extension, and this summer, he’s set to leave with no return for Chicago. This situation is eerily similar to Nikola Vucevic, who similarly could not agree to terms during the regular season of his expiring contract a year ago. Still, he did ink a deal over the summer after one of the best seasons of his career and his first one playing all 82 games. When it was apparent that DeRozan was staying put in Chicago through yesterday’s trade deadline, he was asked by K.C. Johnson of NBC Chicago his thoughts on hitting the open market. His response and a report by Shams Charania of The Athletic have put things into perspective regarding his current status before his contract ends.
“The Love Is There”
DeRozan’s response to his upcoming free agency was the same message since his arrival in the Windy City: he wants to remain a Bull and potentially retire in Chicago. No surprise there, as he’s seen two of the best seasons of his career, two All-Star appearances including a starting nod in his first, an All-NBA selection, and leading Chicago to their lone playoff victory in the past seven years. At 34 years old, the question becomes practicality concerning his salary demands.
With his recent accolades and the NBA’s cap space increasing nearly every offseason, it wouldn’t be outlandish for DeRozan to require north of $40 million in a short-term deal. His running mate Zach LaVine has made that the last two seasons and is set to earn more than that for the next three. DeRozan has been better from any angle than LaVine, with his lone argument being that he’s five years younger. Still, some teams will offer $30-35 million or more for the former USC forward.
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Shams And AK Confirm The Mutual Interest
Widely acknowledged as the second in command regarding breaking NBA news, Shams Charania commented on DeRozan’s situation this afternoon, saying the Bulls are interested in keeping him long-term. Karnsivosas confirmed the same in his press conference following the deadline’s cutoff.
While the interest may be alive on both ends and this is the most likely scenario, should Bulls fans want DeRozan to return? While he has been the best Chicago Bull all three seasons with the team, his age and the constant mediocrity calls for change. Coby White’s emergence this season has deservedly moved him up the ranks, which will build annually. Unless DeRozan’s willing to take a backseat, averaging a team-leading 22.3 points and 5.3 assists per contest would suggest otherwise, there’s no logistical reason to resign the 15-year veteran.
While most of the team had the most lackluster effort of the year following the stagnant deadline day, DeRozan had one of his best in the come-from-behind win in Memphis. Although he’s been a fan-favorite clutch leader for this team going on three seasons, the best interest is to move on even though signs are pointing to a reunion.
Does Karnisovas contractually bind himself and the franchise to a continued sub-par output, or does the fire from another missed postseason force him into serious roster construction?