Strike Hard… Bulls Free Agency 2021 Part 2

DeMar DeRozan is a Chicago Bull. Arturas Karnisovas and Marc Eversley have been absolute killers this free agency. The Bulls needed a wing, and they went out and got one of the best wings available. This acquisition is probably due to the strong relationship Eversley has with DeRozan from their days together in Toronto, but that’s the very reason he has the job of General Manager, because of those relationships with players, and it’s paying off.

DeRozan didn’t come cheap. In another sign-and-trade, the Round Table send Thaddeus Young, Al-Farouq Aminu, a top 10 protected future 1st round draft pick (2025), and two future 2nd round draft picks, to the San Antonio Spurs, in return, DeRozan will make $85 Million over the next 3 seasons to play for the Bulls.

DeRozan didn’t come without controversy. Even as the majority of Bulls fans threw back their heads and screamed pure joy to the heavens, the ever present naysayers pointed out that it’s an awful lot to give up for an aging player that doesn’t shoot 3 pointers and is a below average defender. In a vacuum, this subset of Bulls fandom is correct. There are flaws in DeRozan’s game, and the Bulls did give up a lot for him. But in the context of the rest of this Bulls roster, DeRozan makes a ton of sense.

One of the biggest needs for the Bulls on offense has been a secondary shot creator to compliment Zach LaVine. If you think about it, Zach has been the only Bull that has consistently been able to create his own shot off the dribble. Every other player on the roster over the recent years has relied heavily on someone else getting them the ball in a position to score, it’s the reason the Bulls had so many assists last season. DeRozan can get his own shot. He’ll take pressure off of LaVine to constantly be the bucket getter. How many times did we see the Bulls offense sputter and stall last season when LaVine wasn’t on the court? DeRozan fixes that problem.

You might be tempted to think, “Oh, DeRozan is a ‘Shot Creator.’ Isn’t that a euphemism for selfish ball hog?” Not in this case. Over the last few seasons with the Spurs, DeRozan has grown into a very competent facilitator. He can break down a defense and draw defenders to him, allowing teammates open looks at the basket. DeRozan has been averaging over 6 assists per game in his last 3 seasons. His playmaking and facilitating will also alleviate some of the burden that Zach LaVine has been carrying on his shoulders for the past 4 seasons.

With his shot creation and facilitating, DeRozan draws a lot of fouls. He is in the top 10 (8th overall last season) of the NBA in Free Throw Attempts per game, shooting 7.2 FTA. This was an area that Arturas Karnisovas and Billy Donovan said the Bulls needed to get better in, drawing fouls and shooting free throws, so what did the Round Table do? The got one of the best in the business at drawing fouls on the team. It’s awesome to see a competent NBA front office at work. They identify needs and problem areas on the team, and they surgically fix those issues with smart solutions and inventive deal making.

While DeRozan is a weak 3 point shooter, I don’t think that will impact the Bulls too much, because his teammates are competent from beyond the arc. The more cautious Bulls fans have brought up the spacing issues his lack of 3 point prowess might create, but with Nikola Vucevic able to drain 3’s, and Patrick Williams also showing he has a shooters touch, DeRozan’s flaw shouldn’t (fingers crossed) be too much of an issue. I trust Coach Donovan to know how to maximize DeRozan’s strengths while minimizing his flaws.

After yesterdays wheeling and dealing, the Round Table have almost completely overturned the Bulls roster since taking over last year. The only players left from the GarPax era are Zach LaVine, Coby White, and Lauri Markkanen, and there is still work to be done in free agency. The Bulls need a back up Big for Vucevic, and I would feel better if they had another Power Forward/Wing to back up Patrick Williams or play a little small ball center. As I said in my last post, rumors persist of a sign-and-trade deal sending Lauri to Minnesota, perhaps that will address those needs.

So far, the first two days of NBA Free Agency 2021 have been spectacular for the Bulls. The roster has been infused with talent, and the expectations for the Bulls next season have sky rocketed. Day 3 is on hand, I can’t wait to see what the Round Table will come up with next. Khem Birch? That Lauri Markkanen sign-and-trade? Maybe they sign a veteran Big like Ed Davis? Until they do, thanks for reading and GO BULLS!