Bulls free agent rumor looks like more of the same but may be only option

Jan 6, 2023; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Chicago Bulls forward DeMar DeRozan (11) drives
Jan 6, 2023; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Chicago Bulls forward DeMar DeRozan (11) drives / Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

The biggest question the Chicago Bulls face this summer is which direction to take. 

Do they go the nuclear route, trade all of their veteran players and rebuild around the young guys and assets? Do they run it back with the same team and hope for better health? Somewhere in between? 

The Bulls are giving an early indication of their intentions with one of the key players in all of this, free-agent DeMar DeRozan, who will be 35 next season but is still playing at a high level. 

According to Mike Scotto of HoopsHype: 

"In general, the belief around the league is DeRozan will ultimately re-sign with the Bulls, given the team’s continued desire to compete, his role, and Chicago’s willingness to pay him. "

It sounds like more of the same for the Bulls, but it may be their only option. 

The Chicago Bulls and DeMar DeRozan

The Bulls' options are essentially to pay DeMar DeRozan upwards of $40 million a year for the next several seasons or let their best player walk in free agency and get nothing in return. 

DeRozan can still help the Bulls in the short term, and as long as they can get him on a two-year deal, his contract would still be one they could move in the future, meaning they could get some assets instead of losing him for nothing. 

With a lack of draft assets, the Bulls could still recoup a first-round pick at some point as long as DeRozan is healthy and still producing, and if they are able to trade LaVine for anything, DeRozan could still act as a bridge to the next generation of Bulls. 

Arturus Karnisovas indicated that changes were coming, but it doesn’t appear DeRozan will be one of them. It’s a tough spot to be in, one the Bulls probably should have avoided by moving DeRozan earlier instead of chasing the 9th seed. 

However, if the Bulls can find a taker for Zach LaVine, they can start a soft rebuild while still competing next season, so re-signing DeRozan may be the only call.