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Bulls free agency: Grading sign-and-trade for DeMar DeRozan

by Lewis hawkins
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hese are not your mother’s Chicago Bulls, ladies and gentleman.T

No, the team’s still new-seeming front office led by Artūras Karnišovas and Marc Eversley are in the interest of big, unpredictable splashes. And pushing the chips in to win now.

Their latest submission in that department was Tuesday’s sign-and-trade acquisition of DeMar DeRozan from the San Antonio Spurs — adding to an active free-agency period that also saw them agree to terms with Lonzo Ball and Alex Caruso.

But the DeRozan deal was the biggest, in terms of both impact and cost.

Terms: Bulls acquire DeMar DeRozan (three years, $85 million fully guaranteed) from Spurs in exchange for Thad Young, Al-Farouq Aminu, a 2025 first-round pick and second-round picks in 2022 and 2025

Analysis: Let’s start with the positives. 

In this deal, the Bulls addressed a couple areas of need. Once (and still) thin on wing depth, they nabbed the best small forward on the market short of Kawhi Leonard — and that small forward instantly becomes the team’s best halfcourt playmaker, having averaged a career-high 6.9 assists (against just 2 turnovers) in 2020-21.

That’s not the only wrinkle DeRozan will add. His ability to draw fouls (his 7.2 free-throw attempts per game last season ranked eighth in the NBA) directly addresses a weak spot Artūras Karnišovas pinpointed at his end-of-season exit interview (the Bulls’ 17.5 free-throw attempts per game was dead last in the league). What’s more, he averaged nearly half as many drives per game (18.2, sixth in the NBA) as the Bulls did as a team (40.8, 26th) last season, and was effective in those chances; he’ll be a boon for a Bulls team that in years past has lacked dribble penetration outside of Zach LaVine.

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