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Clippers to Prioritize Trading for Bulls’ DeMar DeRozan if Paul George Leaves

DeMar DeRozan is being eyed as a potential replacement for Paul George on the Los Angeles Clippers via a sign-and-trade, should George opt to leave Los Angeles, according to NBA Insider KC Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago.

Earlier in May, HoopsHype’s Michael A Scotto had reported that the Clippers could pursue DeRozan in a sign-and-trade if they fail to retain Paul George in free agency, so this development isn’t entirely surprising.

Additional reports from Bleacher Report’s Chris B Haynes and Marc Stein of SteinLine on Wednesday indicated that contract discussions between DeRozan and the Chicago Bulls have cooled off, possibly paving the way for him to enter free agency.

“Tuesday’s edition of #thisleague UNCUT was the first place I heard, via Chris Haynes’ reporting, that talks between the Bulls and DeMar DeRozan on a possible contract extension had gone cold, increasing the possibility that DeRozan becomes a free agent Sunday at 6 PM ET when the marketplace opens officially.”

DeRozan is set to become an unrestricted free agent, while Paul George could opt out of his player option for the 2024-25 season.

The situation with Paul George and the Clippers remains tense, with George’s decision on his player option due in three days.

Brian Windhorst shared insights on ESPN’s Get Up, indicating that multiple teams are willing to offer George a four-year max contract, which the Clippers have yet to match.

“I have been told that multiple teams out there are willing to trade for him and offer him the four-year max contract that he’s not currently being offered by the Clippers,” Windhorst said. “That means he’s got a set of options. But the question is, are the Clippers going to play ball with such a deal, or are they going to risk losing him for nothing if he can walk to a team like Philadelphia or Orlando?”

“… At the end of the day, what I think he really wants to do is get that four-year max offer from the Clippers. They have not been willing to go there yet, especially after giving Kawhi Leonard just a three-year deal at less than the max. So this is really a bit of a stare-down right now. At the moment, at least it appears the Clippers (are) kind of calling a bluff from Paul George (about whether) he actually wants to leave his hometown.”

The Golden State Warriors, New York Knicks and the Houston Rockets are among the other teams who have been linked to George. 

For DeRozan, he had a standout season with the Bulls this season, playing 79 games and averaging 24.0 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 5.3 assists per game. He shot 48.0% from the field, 33.3% from beyond the arc, and 85.3% from the free-throw line.

The Bulls have the option to extend DeRozan’s contract before free agency begins, similar to how they locked in Nikola Vucevic last offseason.

DeRozan originally signed a three-year, $85 million contract with the Bulls in August 2021 through a sign-and-trade deal with the San Antonio Spurs. With the Bulls potentially heading towards a rebuilding phase, DeRozan may seek to join a contender this offseason.

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