DeMar DeRozan wants Bulls return, but with chance to 'make a run'

April 20, 2024, 12:59 AM

MIAMI -- While DeMar DeRozan reiterated a desire to remain in Chicago as the  Bulls' season concluded Friday night, he also emphasized just how much he wants to win, particularly as his career winds down.

In the aftermath of the Bulls' 112-91 loss to the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference play-in tournament -- the second consecutive season Chicago has been eliminated by Miami for the No.8 seed -- DeRozan stated his preference to re-sign with the organization, but expressed his frustration with losing in the same spot as a year ago. 

"My stance on wanting to be here is still the same, but I just want to win," said DeRozan, who will be an unrestricted free agent this summer. "Just have the opportunity to win and not [have] to go home to see the first round of the playoffs, second round of the playoffs. It's frustrating."

DeRozan scored 22 points in 41 minutes Friday night, but the Bulls were dominated by the Heat, who were missing star Jimmy Butler (sprained MCL). The rest of the Bulls starters had 45 points on 17-of-56 shooting (30%).

That left DeRozan on the bench with the game out of reach in the closing seconds of the fourth quarter, looking up at the scoreboard. 

"I hate losing, I hate missing opportunities," DeRozan said. "It really hits after the season. You look up, last seconds run off, and you don't have another game. Next time I play a game will be my 16th season. You realize the window closes for you personally. I'm not trying to play 25 years or nothing like that."

Chicago has missed the playoffs in six of the past seven seasons.

Asked what he wants to see from the Bulls as he makes his free agency decision, DeRozan replied, "A team that gives us a chance to make a run." 

DeRozan, who turns 35 in August, joined the Bulls in August 2021 as part of a sign-and-trade with the San Antonio Spurs. Instantly, the team found success, starting the season 27-13 with Lonzo Ball running the offense alongside DeRozan and Zach LaVine.

DeRozan pointed to that Bulls team as an example of one that had all the pieces in place to be competitive, but was derailed by injuries. Ball has not played since January 2022 and LaVine was limited to 25 games this season before having foot surgery.

"We had all the pieces in play," DeRozan said. "I don't know if a black cat ran in front of us or we broke a mirror. But I think just giving us the chance to be competitive and putting a team on the floor that we can go out there and compete with teams and not just fight for a play-in game."

In three seasons in Chicago, DeRozan has held up his end of the bargain.

He's averaged 25.5 points on 49.6% shooting with 5.1 assists and 4.7 rebounds since joining the Bulls, making the All-Star team in 2022 and 2023. With Chicago missing key players due to injuries this season, DeRozan accepted an even heavier workload, leading the NBA in total minutes at age 34.

The Bulls have also shared interest in re-signing DeRozan to a new deal -- "We love DeMar," Bulls vice president Arturas Karnisovas said at the trade deadline -- not only because of his production on the court but for the way he has helped guide their young players this season."

"It would mean everything to this organization, to the fans, to this city," Bulls guard Coby White said. "So, whatever he wants I think he should get paid. It would be important for us to have him back. Me personally, I really want him back."