Clippers took aim at DeMar DeRozan, but Bulls get a deal done
DeMar DeRozan will have his Los Angeles homecoming next season.
It just will be limited to one road game against the Lakers, and another against the Clippers.
One day after NBA free agency opened and four days before DeRozan turns 32, the 6-foot-6 L.A. native agreed to a reported three-year contract worth $85 million with the Chicago Bulls as part of a sign-and-trade agreement with his former team, San Antonio.
The agreement Tuesday ended the pursuit of DeRozan by the Clippers and Lakers, who each held varying levels of interest in the former USC wing after his eighth consecutive season averaging 20 points or more.
DeRozan joined the Spurs in 2018 after Toronto traded him and other assets to get Leonard, who subsequently won a championship with the Raptors. Three years later, the Clippers had interest in DeRozan for Leonard-related reasons too.
For the Clippers, DeRozan would have been slotted next to Paul George as a veteran presence to fill the scoring void left by the knee injury to Leonard that will keep the unrestricted free-agent wing out “a great deal of time” if he re-signs, team president Lawrence Frank said last week.
To sign DeRozan outright as an unrestricted free agent, the Clippers would have been able to offer only their taxpayer mid-level exception worth $5.9 million.
Veteran forward Nicolas Batum, who had a bounce-back year last season, has agreed to a two-year contract to return to the Clippers. Star forward Kawhi Leonard also could be in line to sign a two-year deal.
Securing a more lucrative contract akin to Chicago’s would have required a sign-and-trade agreement with San Antonio and sending out numerous players to make the salary math work, but it’s unclear whether, or how palatable, San Antonio ever considered such a deal. It’s also unclear whether the Clippers would have attempted to acquire him that way, either, because it would have placed them under the NBA’s hard salary cap.
Yahoo Sports reported that the Clippers were scheduled to meet Tuesday with DeRozan’s representation, but it was unclear whether the meeting ever took place because the Bulls’ offer apparently resonated with DeRozan. They sent San Antonio Thaddeus Young, Al-Farouq Aminu, a future first-round pick and two second-round picks, according to ESPN.
The Clippers remain in pursuit of re-signing their top free-agency targets in Leonard and point guard Reggie Jackson but there are additional needs.
In addition to the return of forward Nicolas Batum, whose signing cannot become official until Friday, and three rookies acquired last week — shooting guard Keon Johnson, point guard Jason Preston and wing B.J. Boston, whose addition also cannot be made official until Friday — the Clippers have 11 players under contract for next season. Eight of them primarily play in the backcourt and three are centers.
With their remaining roster spots, the Clippers could be targeting a shot creator to pair next to a point guard and George on the wing and shoulder some of the scoring burden — that is, if the Clippers don’t see Terance Mann or Luke Kennard as ready to take on that starting role.
There is also the matter of building depth behind George and forwards Marcus Morris and Batum. Patrick Patterson, who spent the last two seasons with the Clippers, remains unsigned.
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