DeMar DeRozan Sends Clear Message to Bulls Front Office Ahead of Free Agency

For the second year in a row, the Chicago Bulls’ season ended at the hands of the Miami Heat. Faced with that reality and his looming free agency, DeMar DeRozan was direct.

This time, the Heat were without former Bull Jimmy Butler.

But the results were even more convincing, with the Heat overcoming an 11-6 Bulls advantage to start to come away with a 112-91 victory.

“Hate missed opportunities,” DeRozan told reporters after the game on April 19. “I think it really hits you at the end of the season, when you look up and the last seconds run off and you know you don’t have another game. And the next time I play again will be my 16th season. You realize the window close for you personally. I ain’t trying to play 25 years or nothing like that.

“I just want to have that opportunity to give everything great in you. Opportunity. Like I said, my mind, my stance on wanting to be here is still the same. But I just want to win more and more than anything, just have the opportunity to win.

“I gotta go home and see the first round of the playoffs, second round of the playoffs. It’s frustrating.”

Study DeMar DeRozan’s footwork, kids

— Esfandiar Baraheni (@JustEsBaraheni) April 19, 2024

DeRozan finished with 22 points on 50% shooting, including connecting on three of six triples.

Bulls Reverted Back to Old Habits, Got Similar Results

The 34-year-old, six-time All-Star also dished out four assists, snagged three rebounds, stole the ball once, and blocked one shot. It was an all-around effort from DeRozan who was often blitzed by the Heat before he could secure the catch.

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Even when he got the ball cleanly, the Heat were there in a blink, arguably elevating the quality of DeRozan’s final line.

DeRozan 1-on-4.

— Steph Noh (@StephNoh) April 19, 2024

This is the same formula the Bulls have deployed over the last two seasons with similar results. DeRozan was swarmed in their first-round playoff series against the Milwaukee Bucks in 2021-22, which ended in five games. And the Heat deployed a similar strategy in the 2023 Play-In.

It has been effective because no one has been able to step up to support DeRozan in those contests.

The non-DeRozan Bulls were 27-for-76 (35.5%) from the floor in this game.

No other Bull shot even 42% overall while the starting backcourt of Ayo Dosunmu and Coby White combined to go 4-for-19 from beyond the arc. The bigger Bulls were also minus-nine on the glass.

Coby White: Re-Signing DeMar DeRozan ‘Would Mean Everything’ for Bulls

The Bulls have pushed continuity the last two offseasons. But, even as the calls for the organization to make changes grow louder, White – who signed a three-year, $36 million contract last offseason – hopes DeRozan is a part of the future.

“It would mean everything to this organization, I think, to the fans, to the city. As much as he’s done for this organization and to the city, and my personal growth. That’s my dog, so whatever he want, I think he should get paid whatever he wants,” White told reporters after the game. “It’ll be important for us to have him back. And me personally, I really want him back.

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“Hopefully they can get everything done and he can be back in a Chicago Bulls uniform next season.”

DeMar DeRozan in his 15th season:

24.0 PPG
4.3 RPG
5.3 APG
1.1 SPG
58.4 TS%

The most minutes (2,989) by any player in a season in the 2020s.

— BullsMuse (@BullsMuse_) April 20, 2024

DeRozan can sign an extension worth up to $130 million over three years before free agency.

The Bulls still have to address Andre Drummond and Patrick Williams (restricted), both free agents after the season. And they have designs on moving Zach LaVine this offseason too after failing to consummate a deal in the last two transaction windows.

Bringing back DeRozan could be an avenue to maintaining some level of the continuity Bulls executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas has strived for.

Judging from DeRozan’s comments, a deal could depend on what other changes loom.

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