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Here to stay? DeMar DeRozan leads Bulls to win and shows staying power

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — It has been an ongoing topic in the last week for DeMar DeRozan.

Thanks to several interviews, the world knows that DeRozan is not a planner and even gets angry with the idea of people who do plan.

DeRozan even admitted Thursday that he doesn’t pack for road trips until the morning before departure.

That mentality could come in handy for him because it sounds like he won’t be packing up to go to another organization anytime soon.

“It’s kind of like with your spouse,” DeRozan said when asked about likely re-signing with the Bulls after they opted not to trade him at the deadline. “It’s a relationship. It’s like, ‘What do we need to do to work on this, baby? Let’s figure this thing out. You want me. I want you.’ The love is there.”

And the money likely will be there this summer with DeRozan, 34, headed for free agency. Much like they did with Nikola Vucevic last season, the Bulls likely will try to re-sign DeRozan after not moving him.

It’s a good thing they didn’t because they needed him against an undermanned Grizzlies team. DeRozan’s game-high 30 points lifted the Bulls (25-27) to a 118-110 victory.

“Yes, I love DeMar,” executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas said. “He’s huge for this team, for the city, this organization. He’s been our closer. I think it’s wonderful for this team, and hopefully when the time comes, we have a chance to keep him.”

Not that any of this was a surprise.

A source said the Bulls engaged in trade talks for DeRozan, but nothing ever reached the point where there were final names being kicked around.

The plan that has been etched in pencil has been to keep DeRozan, then get back to the negotiating table that both sides walked away from amicably in the fall.

Those plans haven’t changed even with the Bulls not bringing in any help. But DeRozan wasn’t complaining about that.

“Have I ever looked unhappy?” DeRozan said. “Have I ever given any type of notion that I wanted to be somewhere else? Any type of mannerisms or anything? So all I can do is control me, the position I’m in. Anybody who knows me, whatever job I have, I’m going to give it my all — on the court, outside the court, for my teammates, the fans, to whoever appreciates it.”

Ringing endorsement

The Bulls did have some serious discussions regarding Alex Caruso leading into the deadline, including talks with the Thunder and Warriors, but a source said the asking price for Caruso was astronomical.

And that was justified as far as coach Billy Donovan was concerned.

“I think Alex Caruso is one of the most valuable players in the NBA,” Donovan said. “I think you need to get a haul for him.

‘‘Those players like DeMar DeRozan, like Alex Caruso just don’t grow on trees.”

Drum roll

For the second straight game, Donovan turned to the pairing of Andre Drummond and Vucevic.

He started the two bigs against the Timberwolves, then went back to that look to start the second half against the Grizzlies.

Drummond, also the subject of trade rumors, had 21 points on 10-for-11 shooting and grabbed 13 rebounds.

“I thought we could maybe manufacture more offense at the basket,” Donovan said.



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