The Lakers front office is interested in DeMar DeRozan. They may not have told the Bulls yet.
ESPN’s Zach Lowe reported on his podcast that Lakers have had “internal discussions” about a deal with Chicago that would send Russell Westbrook and the team’s 2027 and 2029 first-rounders for DeRozan and center Nikola Vucevic.
The Bulls have been floundering without point guard Lonzo Ball and with star guard Zach LaVine recovering from offseason knee surgery. They’re 9-12, which is still half a game better than the 8-12 Lakers. DeRozan would add a proven scorer to the offensively challenged Lakers, while former All-Star Nikola Vucevic would let them play Anthony Davis at his preferred power forward position.
Would the two solve L.A.’s shooting issues? Vucevic makes 34.4 percent of his three-point attempts, which is good for a center, and would rank fifth on the Lakers. DeRozan doesn’t make threes, but he makes 53.9 percent of his two-pointers and 51.5 percent of his long twos. That kind of mid-range accuracy still stretches a defense.
By comparison, Westbrook makes 30 percent of his long twos.
Of course, these were simply internal discussions — Lowe didn’t say anything about the Lakers actually making a trade offer to the Bulls. There’s not enough pressure yet for either side to commit. The Bulls are in 12th place, but they’re only two games out of seventh and half a game out of the play-in tournament. The Lakers are only now playing with their full roster after a swarm of injuries.
The theoretical trade would also deliver DeRozan to where he thought he was heading last summer. DeRozan told J.J. Redick on his podcast that he was so confident he was becoming a Laker that he went to Mexico on vacation — only to hear the Lakers had traded for Westbrook instead. Instead, he signed with the Bulls and made the All-NBA team and got his fifth All-Star nod.
Whether the deal gets done or not probably depends more on the Bulls than the Lakers. If Ball’s rehab continues to go slowly, the Bulls might decide to tank for Victor Wembanyama. They owe their first-round pick to the Orlando Magic — but it’s top-four protected. So if the Bulls have some bad luck on the court — and some good luck in the lottery — there could be a sweet incentive to sell off the team. Besides two Lakers picks.