Report: Lakers internally discussed DeRozan, Vučević trade


We are just over a quarter of the way through the 2022-23 NBA season. But the rumor mill is already heating up.

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

In the latest episode of The Lowe Post podcast, Lowe, speaking to Kirk Goldsberry, noted that the Los Angeles Lakers have had "internal discussions" about exploring a trade with the Chicago Bulls for DeMar DeRozan and Nikola Vučević if the opportunity arises.

"I can tell you 100 percent for sure the Lakers have had internal discussions about that very possibility (trading for DeRozan and Vučević) if it would ever come up," Lowe said. "Not that they (the Lakers) would do it, let me be clear. Just, you look around the league, like any responsible team would."

This follows The Ringer’s Bill Simmons making waves by tossing out a hypothetical trade proposal for his podcast listeners to chew on earlier this week, wherein the Lakers would receive DeRozan and Vučević, and the Bulls would absorb Russell Westbrook's giant expiring contract, plus first-round picks in 2027 (unprotected) and 2029 (top-five protected):

The distinctions that are important to make in Lowe’s reporting are that the Lakers’ discussions have only been internal, and have not been definitive, as they mull a number of potential trade paths. Without evidence to suggest the Bulls are engaged in trade talks, this falls short of groundbreaking news from a Chicago perspective.

Besides, the Bulls, while off to a disappointing 9-12 start, have given every reason to believe that they believe in the core they have assembled.

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

Twenty games and change against one of the league's most difficult schedules is not likely to turn management's convictions completely on their head, especially considering the Bulls would need to fall into 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 spirals, or starting point guard Lonzo Ball’s long-awaited return does not materialize, that belief will wane and the organization will look to pivot. 

Certainly, the group assembled has not yet proven it’s one capable of contending for a championship — even though the franchise indebted itself three future first round picks and pushed its cap sheet to the brink of the luxury tax to assemble it.

There are also ticking clocks that make a change of direction now sensible, from Vučević's expiring contract, to DeRozan, whose contract expires after 2023-24, being extension-eligible in the offseason and possessing good trade value.

Plus, for what it's worth, a hypothetical Lakers offer would represent an intriguing opportunity to add un- or lightly-protected first round picks in what is likely to be the post-LeBron James era of that franchise — valuable assets for a rebuild, albeit far off in the future.

However, it’s early for anyone — even those closest to the situation — to predict which direction this Bulls season will ultimately spin.

But it’s never too early to whip out the trade machine. And such rumblings as those above are logs on the fire.

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