DeMar DeRozan is experiencing a career renaissance in his first year with the Chicago Bulls, garnering MVP consideration over the first half of the season with an average of 28.1 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 5.1 assists per game.
He’s become the leading man for a team that entered the NBA All-Star break sitting in second in the Eastern Conference — posting career bests in both field-goal percentage (51.7%) and three-point percentage (34.3%).
The 32-year-old is also the first player in NBA history to post seven straight 35-point games on 50% shooting or better.
It’s looking to be quite the bargain for the Bulls, who are dishing out $81.9 million over a three-year contract that was agreed upon in a sign-and-trade with the San Antonio Spurs last summer. The Spurs sent Thaddeus Young and Al-Farouq Aminu, a future-protected first-round pick, the Lakers’ 2022 second-round pick, and the Bulls’ 2025 second-round pick in return.
And to think, DeRozan could have been doing this with the Knicks.
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Marc Berman of the New York Post reported that if the Knicks had matched the Bulls’ contract over, DeRozan would have picked playing at Madison Square Garden rather than the Windy City — though the Los Angeles Lakers were the Compton, CA native’s top choice.
But the Lakers and Knicks never inquired, making DeRozan’s decision to head to Chicago an easy one — and a move that New York should be kicking itself over.
Knicks president Leon Rose and his top adviser, William Wesley, instead were sold on attributing a large portion of their massive cap space during the offseason on acquiring Evan Fournier in a sign-and-trade from the Boston Celtics in which they doled out $73 million over four years.
Fournier hasn’t come close to living up to the front office’s expectations, averaging just 14.5 points per game for a Knicks team that has woefully underperformed after making a surprise run to the playoffs last season.
Meanwhile, general manager Scott Perry reportedly wanted to take a longer look at DeRozan, who could have potentially lured Portland Trail Blazers superstar guard Damian Lillard to New York, too. Both DeRozan and Lillard are good friends and could have created a dynamic duo in midtown.
Instead, Rose is living with Fournier and Kemba Walker as his two main assets in the backcourt.
Oh, what could have been.