DeMar DeRozan trade rumors: Why Kings, not Lakers or Heat, have emerged as most likely landing spot for Bulls star

DeMar DeRozan’s free agency saga may be close to ending. And it’s the Kings who are looking like the favorites to land him.

“There are some other scenarios for DeMar DeRozan, but I think Sacramento right now is the team to watch,” ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski said on Friday.

The Kings finished ninth in the West and failed to get out of the Play-In Tournament last season. They could use an infusion of talent to push up in the standings in the brutal Western Conference.

Here’s why the Kings are in a great position to land the six-time All-Star over a team like the Lakers or Heat.

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Why Kings have emerged as most likely DeMar DeRozan destination

The Lakers and Heat have also been rumored to be in the DeRozan sweepstakes. But what made a deal much harder for those two teams to pull off is that both are projected to be well into the first apron. Teams above that $178 million payroll are prohibited from conducting sign-and-trades, so they would have to attach picks to shed a lot of salary and get under that mark.

The Kings are $14 million under the first apron, per Spotrac. That gives them a ton of wiggle room to add salary in a sign-and-trade, although they still have to abide by salary-matching rules. If the Bulls were to sign DeRozan to a new deal starting at, say, $20 million annually, they would have to send out at least $12.5 million of salary — his new salary, minus $7.5 million.

A sign-and-trade gets complicated because the Bulls wouldn’t want that extra salary back. They have about $11 million under the luxury tax, which they absolutely will not go above next season. That means that a third team with cap space, either the Jazz or Pistons, would have to be roped in to take in one of Sacramento’s outgoing salaries.

That third team would have to be compensated with draft equity or young prospects, as would the Bulls.

MORE: Free agency grades for all 30 NBA teams

What a DeMar DeRozan sign-and-trade might look like

For a sign-and-trade to work, here’s what each team would need to be getting:

Bulls : Picks and or/young prospects

: Picks and or/young prospects Jazz or Pistons: Unwanted salary, plus picks and/or young prospects

Unwanted salary, plus picks and/or young prospects Kings: DeRozan

Here’s what a trade might look like, as workshopped by myself and CHGO’s Will Gottlieb, who has put out several other excellent DeRozan trade frameworks:

The Bulls have prioritized young players over picks. There aren’t a ton of options to choose from if DeRozan went to the Kings. Devin Carter, the No. 13 pick in the draft, is certainly a player that the Bulls had on their radar before they took Matas Buzelis with the No. 11 pick.

Alternatively, Chicago could ask for one of Detroit or Utah’s young players, like Marcus Sasser or Isaiah Collier. That would increase the draft compensation that the Kings and/or Bulls would have to send out.

The Bulls don’t have a ton of leverage in this situation, so this is a bit of a tough ask for them. The going price for facilitating sign-and-trades this summer has been one or two second-round picks, as seen in the Klay Thompson and Buddy Hield deals that just got completed. Getting a player back who was drafted in the lottery would likely require that Chicago sends out its own small asset to balance out the trade.

MORE: Why Lakers, Heat trades for DeMar DeRozan are full of complications

The Pistons or Jazz would be in the driver’s seat in this trade. The price for renting out cap space has been high — the Nuggets had to pay three second-rounders to offload Reggie Jackson’s $5.2 million. The Kings would have to move around three times as much money. It would likely cost a first-rounder to offload either Harrison Barnes or Kevin Huerter’s salary to make this deal work.

DeRozan is worth that price. The Kings would be getting him at a bargain. He finished second in Clutch Player of the Year voting (he should have won) and was an ironman for the Bulls last year. He’s one of the best isolation scorers in the league and a good facilitator.

Some team is going to land DeRozan, and they are going to be pleasantly surprised at how much he still has left in the tank. The cost in a sign-and-trade will be the same for whoever makes that move — a good pick to the Jazz or Pistons to move off $15-20 million in salary, along with a young player for the Bulls.

If nobody is willing to pay that price, then DeRozan may be forced to take the $13 million mid-level exception and try his luck again next season.

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