While the Bulls may not be interested in Russell Westbrook — or at least posturing as such for now — the Lakers don’t share the same feeling about a pair of marquee Chicago players.
A day after reports came out the Bulls have no interest as things stand in trading for Russ, Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report noted that the Lakers are interested in DeMar DeRozan and Nikola Vucevic.
According to NBA sources, the Lakers are interested in both Vučević and DeRozan. If L.A. is willing to give up two first-round picks (2027 and 2029) along with Russell Westbrook as a buy-out candidate, the Bulls may end up in a better lottery position to retain their pick in June. This is the draft to do it.
This solidifies reporting from Zach Lowe in previous weeks when he indicated the Lakers have at least discussed the potential of trading for the Bulls pair of Vucevic and DeRozan. The Lakers have been monitoring the Bulls for some time, particularly with the hope of a player like Zach LaVine becoming available.
The Bulls are going to be one of the most tracked teams in the league in the coming weeks. WIth a host of useful veterans and role players, a tanking Chicago team could have a firesale that would have the league’s entire attention.
There are a number of players on the roster with Los Angeles ties. On top of DeRozan and LaVine’s more well-known connections, there are also former Lakers Alex Caruso and Lonzo Ball on the roster as well. The latter of those is dealing with a rather serious knee injury with his NBA career unclear right now. Caruso, meanwhile, is probably going to net a much better return than the Lakers can offer in a Russ trade.
For any or all of those players to become available, though, the Bulls would have to have a pretty seismic shift in mindset. Last season, Chicago was battling atop the Eastern Conference after going all-in. This season, they’re teetering on the brink of going in the other direction.
They could look to recoup some of their assets or be of the belief that they could still make a run at the playoffs if they got healthy. And if that approach sounds familiar, well, it probably should. We know how it turned out with the Lakers always striving to get healthy and compete for the playoffs last season. We’ll see if Chicago’s fate will be any different.