20 seconds into free agency, the first Woj bomb dropped — Lonzo Ball agreed to a 4 year, $85 million deal with Chicago. A couple of days later, ESPN’s senior NBA insider dropped another one — the Bulls acquired DeMar DeRozan from the Spurs in a sign-and-trade agreement.
What followed wasn’t nearly as exciting as their first two free-agency moves — they signed Alex Caruso and Tony Bradley, along with some rookies — but the consensual opinion is the Bulls have done enough to become a contender in the East. And that’s the whole reason DeRozan decided to join the team in the first place; to play alongside Zach Lavine and create one of the best 2-3 dynamics in the association. The Lonzo Ball acquisition made him even more excited to do it.
He hasn’t fully blossomed into his potential. His IQ on the court is incredible, him being a point guard general that he is, his tendencies on the floor, it’s amazing. It’s just been a rocky few years of him coming to the league and now finally, being compensated, knowing where you’re going to be, somebody believing in you, now you can feel free and really be yourself.DeMar DeRozan, No Chill with Gilbert Arenas
Lonzo is expected to be the glue guy to make the whole thing work, but most of the load, especially on the offensive end, will be carried by the duo of Lavine and DeRozan — Nikola Vucevic will be the team’s third scoring option. None of the three is a great defensive presence, and the lack of outside shooting makes the offensive fit questionable, to say the least. But as DeRozan sees it, the upside makes it worthwhile.
With such a question mark, there’s such a high ceiling. I knew as soon as I’ve made that decision it’s going to be like, ‘oh, the fit this,’ you know the whole criticism that comes with all the bulls*it that people say that never played basketball, but for me, I looked at it as a dynamic challenge that can be something special.DeMar DeRozan, No Chill with Gilbert Arenas
It’s worth noting that the Bulls still aren’t done. They are reportedly working on a sign-and-trade that would send Lauri Markkanen to a new team, with the Mavericks being favorites to acquire him. Coby White is another player whose name is being thrown around in trade rumors, but no team is yet to emerge as a potential suitor.
Nevertheless, the foundation of the new-look Bulls has been laid. A few tweaks here and there, and we could be looking at a serious threat to come out of East. But even as currently constructed, the jump from last year’s 31 wins seems inevitable. That’s how the Bulls lured DeRozan in the first place, promising him to be a part of building a winning culture in the Windy City. One guy, in particular, played a key role in that process.
It really came from Vucevic. That was my man and for years, even when he was in Orlando, we always was trying to figure out like, ‘Man, we need to play together.’ A lot of the time it would be like BS, but when the opportunity presented itself after he got traded to Chicago, we had a conversation like, ‘You’re a free agent, let’s see what we can do.’ I’m like, ‘I’m going to keep that on my radar.’DeMar DeRozan, No Chill with Gilbert Arenas
DeMar kept it on his radar and the two are finally teammates in Chicago. How far can they go — it’s hard to predict. But it seems none of them cares about predictions. All they care about is making it work on the floor. And if you’re Billy Donovan, that’s all you can ask for two months before the season tips off.