Lakers internally discussed DeRozan, Vučević trade

Report: Lakers internally discussing DeRozan, Vučević trade originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

We are just over a quarter into the 2022-23 NBA season. But the rumors are already heating up.

And, via a recent report from ESPN’s Zach Lowe, the Bulls are involved.

In the latest episode of The Lowe Post podcast, Lowe, speaking with Kirk Goldsberry, noted that the Los Angeles Lakers have had “internal discussions” about exploring a trade to the Chicago Bulls for DeMar DeRozan and Nikola Vučević if it comes up. ‘chance.

“I can tell you with 100% certainty that the Lakers have had internal discussions about that same possibility (trade for DeRozan and Vučević) if it ever would come up,” Lowe said. “Not that they (the Lakers) would, mind you. You just look around the league, like any responsible team would.”

This follows The Ringer’s Bill Simmons making waves by rolling out a hypothetical business proposition for his chewing podcast listeners earlier this week, in which the Lakers would get DeRozan and Vučević, and the Bulls would absorb the mammoth contract in Russell Westbrook expiration, plus first round picks in 2027 (unprotected) and 2029 (top five protected):

The distinctions that are important to make in Lowe’s report are that the Lakers’ discussions have only been internal and have not been definitive, as they mull over a number of potential trade paths. With no evidence to suggest the Bulls are engaged in trade talks, this falls short of groundbreaking news from Chicago’s perspective.

Additionally, the Bulls, despite a disappointing 9-12 start, have given every reason to believe they believe in the core they’ve assembled.

The 2022 off-season saw the front office tout continuity, extend its head coaching and add only marginally — Goran Dragić, Andre Drummond — to the core that won 46 games and snapped a four-year playoff drought in 2021-22 (although that berth resulted in an uninspiring five-game loss at the hands of the Milwaukee Bucks in the first round).

Twenty games and change against one of the toughest programs in the league it’s not likely to completely overturn management’s beliefs, especially considering the Bulls would need to finish in the top four of the 2023 draft lottery to retain this year’s first-round pick, which is owed to the Magic as part of their trade for Vučević in 2021.

But perhaps if the season falls apart, or if the long-awaited return of starting point guard Lonzo Ball doesn’t materialize, that belief will fade and the organization will look to change direction.

Certainly, the reunited group has yet to prove they’re capable of contending for a championship, even as the franchise went into debt for three future first-round picks and pushed its cap sheet to the brink of the luxury tax to reunite it.

There are also ticks that make a change of direction now make sense, from Vučević’s expiring contract, to DeRozan, whose contract expires after 2023-24, being extendable in the offseason and possessing good commercial value.

Furthermore, for what it’s worth, a hypothetical offer from the Lakers would present an intriguing opportunity to add unprotected or poorly protected first-round picks in what will likely be that franchise’s post-LeBron James era: valuable assets for a rebuild, albeit far in the future.

However, it is early for anyone, even those closest to the situation, to predict what direction this Bulls season will ultimately take.

But it’s never too early to pull out the trading machine. And rumblings like the above are logs in the fire.

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