The Bulls did not let up after a fast opening day of NBA Free Agency, as before 24 hours had passed have no acquired a 3rd major acquisition: DeMar DeRozan.
Chris Haynes of Yahoo! broke the story of DeRozan ‘signing’ with the Bulls, but as the Bulls are capped out the rumors all day was that it was going to be a sign-and-trade. Minutes later, Shams Charania of The Athletic had more details:
Thad Young, Al-Farouq Aminu, a future first-round pick and two second-round picks.
That’s a bit startling to see. And the contract details nearly as startling: three-year, $85 million “plus”.
(As we’ve seen, these shameless scoopsters would rather butter up the agents and report a higher figure than what’s practical, so it’s likely there’s some incentives, trade kickers, or non-guaranteed money on this....though Shams is saying ‘fully guaranteed’)
But a significant commitment to be sure, both in terms of money and outgoing pieces. Throughout Tuesday it was rumored that the main outgoing salary would be a sign-and-trade of Lauri Markkanen. DeRozan had one notable other suitor in the Clippers, though they were also capped out and didn’t have the assets remaining that the Bulls did.
So this is another story this offseason of the Bulls winning free agent commitments. DeRozan is an L.A. native but chose the Bulls. Now you could ask why, if that’s the case, did they have to throw in picks (also subject to context, these likely have protections, and the Bulls can’t send their 2022 pick as their 2023 is committed to Orlando), but, uh...I don’t know, for now I’m happy that the Bulls are swinging and connecting.
DeRozan, especially at that salary, is all but guaranteed to start at Small Forward. The Bulls needed wings, and though DeRozan started his career a bit undersized for that role the league has scaled down overall to where he can fit it. A known mid-range assassin and free-throw accumulator yet not much of a 3-point shooter, it was notable in San Antonio that he improved significantly as a playmaker. He’s not going to be much of a wing stopper so that pairing with Zach LaVine is not ideal, but offensively it should work very well and DeRozan could be a lead shot creator in lineups where LaVine is on the bench.
The cascading affect of this move is it pushes Patrick Williams up to his more natural fit (in my opinion) of Power Forward. He even has that starting role by default now with Thad Young being shipped out. Perhaps it’s now a better bet that Lauri Markkanen returns, as the Spurs were one of the few teams rumored to be interested in him at more than his qualifying offer would be.
OR there’s still more to be seen with Lauri’s and even Williams’s future here. In the AKME regime so far (Marc Eversley reportedly crucial in recruiting DeRozan, FYI), they have traded away three future first-round picks for win-now veterans. The Bulls want to be good, right now, and this DeRozan move will be judged based on how well they do this season. That’s a risky but exciting action.
In terms of remaining moves, the Bulls are now out a couple trade pieces but have Markkanen still as a restricted free agent. They also have their BAE and MLE (potentially, depending on how other transactions work out schematically) and minimum contracts.