Did the Chicago Bulls get enough from the Kings? Grading the DeMar DeRozan trade

The Chicago Bulls now lack some dependability.

Chicago reportedly traded star guard DeMar DeRozan to the Sacramento Kings on Saturday, breaking apart the Bulls' big three of DeRozan, Zach laVine and Nikola Vucevic.

The trade looks as follows:

The Kings get:

  • Guard/forward DeMar DeRozan
  • A 2031 pick swap with the Spurs

The Bulls get:

  • Guard Chris Duarte
  • Two second-round picks from the Kings
  • Cash considerations

The Spurs get:

  • Forward Harrison Barnes
  • A 2031 pick swap with the Kings

Here's how we evaluate the deal on the Bulls' end.

Evaluating the Bulls-DeRozan trade

Consensus grade (ESPN, CBS Sports): C

Our grade: Incomplete

This was a deal that needed to happen for the Bulls.

For DeRozan, the NBA ironman gets a chance to lift a competitor when two bonafide star-power players in Domantas Sabonis and De’Aaron Fox. This gives the Kings a "big three," much like the Bulls made three years ago with DeRozan, LaVine and Vucevic.

For the Bulls, this puts the team in a position for a top draft pick in the 2025 NBA Draft.

There wasn't much else the Bulls could do. News broke last week that DeRozan was not going to re-sign in Chicago after the Bulls made strategic moves to get younger. At that point, Chicago didn't have much leverage.

Sending DeRozan to the Kings was a good move for DeRozan, but, for the Bulls, the return left a little to be desired. Especially considering the Bulls could have dealt DeRozan at the trade deadline this past year instead of chasing the playoffs with an injured roster and gotten a much bigger haul.

Getting Duarte back gives the Bulls a player who could revive his career; Duarte was an NBA All-Rookie Second-Team player alongside Ayo Dosunmu and Josh Giddey after the 2021–22 season.

Duarte is also in the last year of his contract. If he doesn't work out, the Bulls could easily let him walk. If Duarte carves himself a niche, he could be a trade deadline candidate for a contender.

The Bulls, had they wanted to align with being more competitive, could have tried to land Barnes instead. Barnes, during a down year, still shot 37 percent from 3-point range in his 12th year in the league. His veteran presence could have given rookie Matas Buzelis a buffer as he got acclimated to the league.

Barnes would have come with some monetary commitment, as he signed a three-year, $54 million contract with the Kings. He brings a $19,850,000 cap hit to the Spurs instead of the Bulls.

In that breath, the move does benefit the Bulls' salary cap situation. Not only did the Bulls get cash in the trade and avoid adding Barnes' contract, but trading DeRozan will also generate a trade exception worth the difference between DeRozan and Duarte's salary, according to The Athletic. That number is reportedly to be about $17.7 million.

A trade exception can be used to trade for a player or multiple players with salaries adding up to that specific amount without adding to a team's cap and luxury-tax.

What this trade does center around is the 2025 NBA Draft.

The Bulls, as part of the trade that brought DeRozan to Chicago from San Antonio, owe the Spurs a first-round pick this year. But, that first-round pick has top-10 protection. If the Bulls earn a top-10 selection in the NBA Lottery, they will retain that pick.

The commitment to getting younger aligns with the Bulls earning a top-10 pick in a draft that's considered to be significantly better than the 2024 NBA Draft. The Bulls do own the right to the Portland Trail Blazers' 2025 first-round draft pick, but that pick does have a top-14 protection.

All that to say: the Bulls have a chance to really remake the outlook of the roster if luck goes the Bulls' way, especially if the team can move Vucevic and LaVine.

The Bulls were never going to get a similar return they originally sent to San Antonio for DeRozan. But, now, the Bulls, which couldn't make the playoffs with DeRozan, and other former players like Alex Caurso and Andre Drummond, will play without them next season.

This might not be a full-fledged rebuild, but the Bulls did what they could in getting something instead of letting him walk for nothing.

A trade like this sets up the opportunity to reshape Chicago's future, but only if the Bulls' front office can make the right swings. That's why it earns an incomplete grade.


5 Chicago Bulls players to watch during NBA Summer League in Las Vegas

Here are five players on the Chicago Bulls' summer league roster to watch next week in Las Vegas, including their first-round pick this year plus two former Big Ten stars.