CHICAGO (AP) — Joining Olympian Zach LaVine and Nikola Vucevic
in what could be a high-scoring trio appealed to DeMar DeRozan. He
is thrilled to get to play alongside fellow newcomer Lonzo Ball,
He sees a team poised to make a jump, and that explains why the
Chicago Bulls were an attractive destination.
“Every guy, when I look at their roster, has a chip on their
shoulders," DeRozan said. “Vuc, since college, I know the type of
player he is, how bad he wants to win. Zach wanting to be on that
main stage and wanting to compete for something much more than just
stats during the season. Myself, I always carried a chip on my
shoulder. And Lonzo. ... There's so much there that can bring so
The Bulls finished 11th in the Eastern Conference and missed the
playoffs for the fourth straight year. While it was their first
season with Arturas Karnisovas leading the front office and Billy
Donovan coaching the club, they clearly have their sights set on
The Bulls are banking on DeRozan and Ball to help them get there
after making big moves to acquire the two in separate
sign-and-trade deals. They introduced their new arrivals on
DeRozan, a four-time All-Star with eight straight seasons
averaging more than 20 points, agreed to a three-year, $85 million
contract. In return, the Bulls sent San Antonio veteran forwards
Thaddeus Young and Al-Farouq Aminu, a protected first-round draft
pick and two second-round draft picks.
The Bulls gave Ball, a restricted free agent, $85 million over
four years. The Pelicans got Garrett Temple, Tomas Satoransky, a
2024 second-round draft pick from Chicago and landed guard Devonte
Graham from Charlotte in a separate sign-and-trade move.
“I think everything happens for a reason and everything plans
out how it's supposed to plan out,” Ball said. “I think at this
point in my life, it was time for me to be a Chicago Bull. I'm
happy to be in Chicago. Obviously, I've got good bonds with guys
over there in New Orleans. It could have worked out, but like I
said, everything happens for a reason."
Ball, a four-year veteran who turns 24 in October, is coming off
his best season. In his second year with the Pelicans, he averaged
career highs in points (14.6 per game) and field-goal percentage
(41.4) while averaging 5.7 assists. He hit a career-high 172
3-pointers last season while making a career-best 37.8% of his
shots from deep.
Ball, drafted by the Lakers with the No. 2 pick out of UCLA in
2017, changed his shooting mechanics after being traded to the
Pelicans in the deal that sent Anthony Davis to Los Angeles.
“Since he's been in the league, it seems like he hasn't really
been let free to be the player that I believe he is,” DeRozan said.
“Coming to this organization once I'd seen him sign and seeing him
having that opportunity for the first time in his career, was
something that I definitely want to be a part of. The dynamic that
he brings to the court on both ends is tremendous.”
There are some questions about how all the pieces will fit
together. DeRozan isn't concerned.
“It's basketball,” he said. “A lot of people I see criticize and
talk about ‘fit this, fit that’ probably never even played
basketball. Being a basketball player you go out, play at the park.
Some of your best teams is against guys you don't even know, that
you go out there and compete with. For me, if everybody is on the
same page, mentality and wants to win, it doesn't matter about a
fit because it's all gonna come together.”
DeRozan also sees a hunger in LaVine, who made his first
All-Star team last season and played on a gold medal team in Tokyo.
One thing he hasn't done is play in the postseason in seven years
with Minnesota and Chicago.
DeRozan insisted the Bulls will see an even better version of
LaVine because of his Olympic experience. He remembers what winning
the gold in Rio did for himself.
“Being amongst a group of the greatest players in the world, the
greatest minds, the greatest coaches — it does something
unconsciously to you that gives you the ultimate confidence, the
ultimate work ethic,” DeRozan said. “It makes you realize you
belong in the elite category of guys, and that carries over to the
season. ... The winning mentality that they have and what it feels
like to win. Something like that carries over, whether you realize
that or not.”