Chicago Bulls star DeMar DeRozan may not wait long to request a new contract when he becomes extension-eligible following the 2022-23 NBA season.
NBC Sports Chicago's K.C. Johnson said on the HoopsHype Podcast that "you can bet that he's going to look to be extended this summer."
Bleacher Report's Chris Haynes reported on Dec. 22 that some around the NBA believe DeRozan could seek an exit in the offseason with the Bulls falling short of expectations.
DeRozan's contract situation puts Chicago in a bind because whatever the franchise decides will chart the course moving forward.
Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago noted the five-time All-Star could potentially earn up to $154 million over four years if he re-signs this summer.
You have to assume a max contract will be his asking price given how well he has played over the last two seasons. Since the start of 2021-22, the 33-year-old is averaging 27.2 points, 5.1 rebounds and 4.9 assists and shooting 50.5 percent from the floor.
Regardless of the final terms, extending DeRozan's contract for the Bulls would mean forging ahead with the current roster and continuing to try to win now.
Skeptics could reasonably question whether that's the best move when Chicago as presently constructed appears to have a firm ceiling. The team lost to the Milwaukee Bucks in five games in the 2022 playoffs, and its 19-23 record now isn't solely attributable to Lonzo Ball's lingering knee injury.
There's also the consideration of how a DeRozan extension would be viewed by Zach LaVine, another franchise cornerstone. Johnson reported on Jan. 3 that LaVine "privately has questioned his role/standing amongst the franchise at times," reflecting how DeRozan has become the Bulls' most influential player on the floor.
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If Chicago has reservations about paying DeRozan what it will likely take, then it could signify the organization's short-term trajectory.
You almost have to trade DeRozan in the summer or by the 2024 deadline at the latest, lest you lose him for nothing to free agency. In that scenario, a rebuild is almost inevitable because the Bulls would be shipping out one of their best players and presumably getting less back in terms of player assets.
Chicago finished under .500 in each of the previous four seasons before DeRozan arrived, so the team's outlook isn't great if LaVine reverts to being the unquestioned No. 1 star and scoring option. You'd arguably be better off tearing it all down and starting over.
Because of all the factors involved, few players will be more fascinating to follow this offseason than DeRozan.