Monday, January 16, 2023

Injured Bulls Star Traded As Target For Western Conference Title Hopeful

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A win against the drought sends the Chicago Bulls (20-24) overseas as they prepare to face the Detroit Pistons in an international appearance January 19 in Paris, France. Their 132-118 win over the Golden State Warriors is a testament to what this team can be when they click on all cylinders even when not all are available.

Star forward DeMar DeRozan missed his third straight game while nursing a strained quad from that head coach Billy Donovan stays optimistic it’s nothing serious.

But the more pressing issue may be his team’s performance in the veteran’s absence.

And with the future still very cloudy for the Bulls, the question is whether it’s up to the Bulls to look for something for DeRozan instead of renewing his contract or losing him for nothing when his contract expires after next season.

“For the love of all that is sacred, get Luka Doncic another ball handler and/or shooter,” writes Spencer Davies of Basketball News, pointing to Dallas’ wealth of tradable contracts and future draft capital. “With the Chicago Bulls going in the wrong direction, DeMar DeRozan makes a lot of sense.”

The 33-year-old DeRozan has another strong campaign, averaging 26.1 points at 59.6% true shooting — the second-best mark of his career.

The Bulls had lost each of their previous two games, with DeRozan sidelined.

They also hadn’t beaten the Warriors since 2017, which added another layer to the strong effort that also saw the big man Nikola Vucevic walk for one career best 43 points with 13 rebounds, four assists and four steals.

Chicago went 3-3 without DeRozan last season. This year, according to Cleaning The Glass, they have a net efficiency difference of plus 1.4 when he’s on the floor and minus 5.8 when he’s not. Their offense in these situations only generates 109.6 points per 100 possessions, which is in the 18th percentile.

Previous rumors have linked DeRozan’s teammate and Bulls star Zach LaVine (29.1 PPG, 41.1% 3P, 64.5% TS in last 10 games) to the Mavericks.

His injury history and $215 million contract might scare them more than DeRozan’s age.

DeRozan has also pushed back rumors he could seek a post-season trade if things don’t go as planned, while NBC Sports Chicago Bulls insider KC Johnson has speculated that another deal with the Bulls could be an option.

Dallas is fifth in the West after reaching the conference finals last season but fell in five games in five to eventual champion Warriors.

Their win over Golden State earned the Bulls, who lost five of their last eight games, a three-game sled. That they continue on that downtrend remains a definite possibility given they’ve mixed strong wins with bewildering losses all season and Dallas has some intriguing plays.

“The Mavericks have contracts to deal with, none more obvious than Tim Hardaway Jr.,” Davies suggests. “You could also get a valuable player with Dorian Finney-Smith’s $55 million four-year extension, which is in Year 1 this season. Additionally, Reggie Bullock is in a filming crisis that lasts through the first half of the campaign. And if you need a filler for a bigger contract coming back, Davis Bertans is making a boatload of money ($16 million, then $17 million and an ETO in 2024-25).

If none of these veteran pieces are of particular interest to the Bulls, Dallas also has third-year wing Josh Green and rookie guard Jaden Hardy.

Dallas also does not own the rights to his first-round pick in the 2023 NBA draft.

It would take a disastrous slide for that to change as the pick’s protections cover them into the top 10. If anything, trading DeRozan to the Mavericks would likely help next season’s pick release the one in 2024.

Of course, NBA rules don’t work that way, meaning the first thing they can hope to be added is 2025 without changing the language for the 2023 pick or waiting until the offseason.

The more complicated a deal, the less likely a team is to make it in-season. That leaves a lot of variables up in the air between relegation and the summer as much can change for both teams from injuries to layoffs.

There are also the cops ability to perform so well against the top teams.

It would instill more confidence and quiet a lot of noise were it not for its weaknesses to lesser competition.

Four of their next five games are on the way, including the Detroit encounter. How they fare at this track could go a long way in determining the future. You then only have 12 days until the close of trading on February 9th.

If none of these veteran pieces are of particular interest to the Bulls, Dallas also has third-year wing Josh Green and rookie guard Jaden Hardy.



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