Four-time All-Star DeMar DeRozan was an unrestricted free agent this summer, and he was convinced he would sign with the Los Angeles Lakers to create a lethal Big Three with LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
However, things didn’t work out. DeRozan signed with the Chicago Bulls and watched Russell Westbrook get traded to the Lakers instead. It was a strange turn of events for the shooting guard, who met with LeBron and Davis at the former’s home and reportedly came away from the meeting believing he was the Lakers’ top priority.
DeMar DeRozan reportedly thought he was Lakers’ offseason priority
According to The Athletic, DeRozan took part in meetings at LeBron’s house over the summer and felt confident about his chances of signing with the Lakers, the team he grew up rooting for. The California native already has a rapport with LeBron and Davis and presumably would have loved to play at home.
However, as the process unfolded, concerns emerged from DeRozan’s side about a perceived disconnect between LeBron and Davis and the Lakers’ front office. LA general manager Rob Pelinka strongly considered executing a sign-and-trade for DeRozan, but the Lakers and San Antonio Spurs couldn’t come to consensus terms.
After the Lakers failed to acquire Buddy Hield from the Sacramento Kings, they made the blockbuster move of getting Westbrook from the Washington Wizards. DeRozan had to meet with other teams in free agency, and he eventually picked the Bulls after having conversations with Zach LaVine.
DeMar DeRozan went to Bulls in a sign-and-trade
DeRozan knew he wouldn’t be a Laker after Westbrook landed with LeBron and Davis. The two-time All-NBA forward met with the Bulls and Los Angeles Clippers and eventually signed with Chicago on a three-year, $85 million deal. The Bulls and Spurs worked out a sign-and-trade deal.
Chicago won’t contend for the championship as the Lakers will. However, DeRozan is excited about playing for the Bulls, who also acquired Lonzo Ball and have LaVine and Nikola Vucevic.
“The talent is there,” DeRozan said at Bulls media day. “I don’t think I’ve played with as talented a team as I have since coming here. Now it’s about just putting it together and me doing my part, being a veteran on the team, bringing it all together and helping it mesh a little quicker. There are a lot of great opportunities. I’m excited to be out there with those guys and just begin putting this all together.”
The Bulls haven’t made the playoffs since the 2016-17 season. They should compete for a postseason spot in 2021-22 after signing DeRozan and Ball and pairing them with LaVine and Vucevic. However, it may be challenging for DeRozan to watch the Lakers have success since he was so close to joining LeBron and Davis.
LeBron James and Anthony Davis stacked up this summer
Not only did the Lakers acquire Westbrook, but they also signed Carmelo Anthony, Dwight Howard, Rajon Rondo, Malik Monk, Kendrick Nunn, DeAndre Jordan, Trevor Ariza, and Kent Bazemore. LeBron and Davis now have the supporting cast they need to win their second championship together.
The Bulls and Lakers will face each other twice in 2021-22. While the games could be competitive, LA should win both contests since it has more star power. However, don’t be surprised if DeRozan goes off in both games since he may have some added motivation after the Lakers didn’t sign him.