The Chicago Bulls acquired DeMar DeRozan through a sign-and-trade with San Antonio early in the whirlwind months of free-agency. DeRozan reunites with his former USC teammate and fellow recruiter. In an appearance on the “No Chill Podcast” with Gilbert Arenas, DeRozan revealed that Nikola Vucevic was a heavy recruiter in signing with the Bulls.
“It really came from (Nikola) Vucevic. That was my man. For years, even when he was in Orlando, we’ve been trying to figure out, ‘we need to play together, we need to play together.’ A lot of time, it would be like BS.
But when the opportunity presented itself after he got traded to Chicago, we had a conversation during the season late in the season like, ‘look, you’re a free agent, let’s see what we can do.’ And I was like, ‘I’m going to keep that on my radar.’ As things transpired, it just started making more and more sense. Had my conversation with Zach (LaVine), and just everything else from there fell into place.”
The pair has been hankering to cross ties on the same organization for years. The two have had a lasting friendship since 2008 when they were both part of a USC basketball team that earned a No. 10 seed in the NCAA Tournament. The Trogdans then went through a crushing 74-69 loss to Draymond Green and the contending Michigan State Spartans. Despite Vucevic only seeing 11 minutes per game while DeRozan had the starting role, the two built a strong life-long bond.
Vucevic joined Chicago at the trade deadline last year in exchange for Wendell Carter Jr., Otto Porter, and two first-round picks. The 30-year-old was named to the All-Star team before the transaction and collected 21.5 points, 11.5 rebounds, and 3.9 assists after it (with Chicago). For DeRozan, he was snubbed from an appearance for the third straight year after averaging 21.6 points, 4.2 rebounds, and a career high 6.9 assists.
The Bulls constructed a promising roster around Zach LaVine with numerous All-Star caliber players. Chicago’s franchise will compete for this coming season with hopes of returning to the winning environment it once was. They last made the playoffs in 2017, when they lost in the Eastern Conference First Round and have played in a total of 35 out of 55 postseasons since the team was established in 1966.