USC Basketball: Ex-Trojan DeMar DeRozan talks free agency after Bulls miss playoffs again – Sports Illustrated

USC Basketball: Ex-Trojan DeMar DeRozan talks free agency after Bulls miss playoffs again – Sports Illustrated

Talk about deja vu.

Former USC Trojans superstar swingman DeMar DeRozan’s Chicago Bulls were eliminated by the Miami Heat in their second play-in game of the year with a chance at the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference for second consecutive season. This time, the loss was even more inexcusable, as the Bulls faced a Heat team that was missing two starters, point guard Terry Rozier and All-NBA (and ex-Bull) small forward Jimmy Butler. Yes, Chicago was missing key players like Zach LaVine and Patrick Williams, but neither were as imperative to the club’s culture as Butler is to Miami.

In Friday night’s 112-91 road blowout, DeRozan scored a game-high 22 points for the Bulls on 8-of-16 shooting from the floor (3-of-6 from the three-point line) and 3-of-4 shooting of the charity. Band. The six-time All-Star also had four assists, three rebounds, a steal and a block, while earning a -20 plus-minus… which might sound bad, until you check the score box and realize that three other Bulls starters have displayed even worse upsides and downsides.

Speaking to the press afterward, DeRozan discussed his impending unrestricted free agency (he is eligible to sign a contract extension with Chicago until the 2024-25 season officially begins in July).

“The next time I play a game, it will be my 16th season. You realize that the window is closing for you personally. I’m not trying to play for 25 years,” DeRozan revealed. “My stance on wanting to be here is still the same but I just want to win.”

He’s definitely not going to win much in Chicago. The team demonstrated monumental inflexibility when it came to team building. President Arturas Karnisovas has not made a trade involving a player since August 2021 (he traded the rights to the No. 35 pick in last summer’s draft, and subsequently selected raw forward Julian Phllips from Tennessee) . Chicago seems to perpetually face injury issues year after year, doesn’t shoot or defend many three-pointers compared to the rest of the league, and is woefully inconsistent on defense. The team has gone 125-121 over the past three seasons, making the playoffs only once in that span.

This is hardly DeRozan’s fault.

Although he missed the All-Star rankings this year after making two consecutive games during his first few seasons as a Bull, DeRozan submitted a typically impressive stat sheet in his 34th season. Playing 79 games and averaging 37.9 minutes per game, the 34-year-old averaged 24 points on .480/.333/.853 shooting, 5.3 assists, 4.3 rebounds, 1 .1 steals and 0.6 rebounds per night. He’s never been a good defender or long-range sniper, but he’s one of the most efficient mid-range shooters in the game, an excellent passer, a solid rebounder, and still has the gift of ‘establish contact and obtain fouls in his favor. It’s also incredibly durable, especially considering its age. He deserves to compete for a title, after spending his post-Toronto Raptors years largely mired in mediocrity.

The Bulls could take off in an effort to retain his services and remain a No. 9 seed next season, but the 2009 Pac-10 Tournament MVP may want to think with his heart and not his wallet this time .

More NBA: Former Trojan Kobe Johnson considered top transfer option


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