The idea behind the Lakers continuing to wait for a trade as the calendar moved along was the hope of a new deal from an underwhelming team would emerge. And while it hasn’t gotten to that point just yet, there is an intriguing name that could be coming available in the coming days and weeks.
After being one of the surprises of the Eastern Conference NBA this season, the Chicago Bulls have taken a big step back this season. Injuries and underperforming have led them to a 9-12 record and questions about their future.
Those questions led to what was admittedly baseless speculation from Bill Simmons of The Ringer on a trade of Russell Westbrook and the team’s two first round picks to Chicago for DeMar DeRozan and Nikola Vucevic. On Friday, Zach Lowe talked on his podcast The Lowe Post about that scenario, noting it was one of the Lakers have discussed.
“I can tell you 100% for sure the Lakers have had internal discussions about that very possibility if it were to ever come out. Not that they would do it. Let me be clear. Just like, you look around the league like any responsible team would and say “Ok, we know the Pacers option is there. The Utah option was there. The Spurs option doesn’t excite us very much.” in terms of where we can dump Russ and one pick, two picks, no picks, whatever...But both picks for the Bulls guys is certainly something their brain trust has thought about.”
No one would be happier about this than DeRozan, who has been begging to be a Laker for a very long time. More recently, he’s made it abundantly clear that he thought he was going to be a Laker in the summer of 2021 before the team dealt for Westbrook.
Instead, he signed with the Bulls on a large contract that will see him paid $27 million this year and $28.6 million next year. Vuc is an expiring deal worth $22 million, allowing the Lakers a small amount of flexibility still in free agency next summer to make a signing.
DeRozan’s fit with LeBron James and Anthony Davis wouldn’t be great as he’s far from a floor-spacer. However, he’s also never been a floor-spacer and still found ways to be effective in the modern NBA.
It’s a different type of deal, but doesn’t feel like one that would vault the Lakers into title contention. It’s also a deal that hasn’t even been discussed between the two teams in any way. The Bulls may be disappointing but are still a ways away from blowing it up, which this trade would do. Until then, it’s just a lot of baseless speculation.