We first learned of the Clippers interest in Bulls forward Thaddeus Young at the end of December, though it re-gained some traction when NBC Sports Chicago confirmed the legitimacy of that interest earlier this week – additionally noting that the Clippers had sent a scout to a recent Bulls game for precisely that reason.
Well, maybe that scout saw another player he liked on the Bulls roster, because according to the Sun-Times, the Clippers are also interested in Kris Dunn.
Sources have indicated the Clippers have interest in both players, but they could go after Young in a trade and wait for Dunn to become a restricted free agent this summer.
The Dunn trade rumors have fallen off dramatically since their height just before the start of the regular season, but when Otto Porter went down with an injury, Dunn regained his spot in the Bulls starting lineup and, ultimately, their short-term plans. But with the playoffs emerging as a dubious goal – at best – and Dunn’s contract set to expire at the end of the year, the Bulls will likely reconsider those efforts ahead of the deadline. And, hey, considering Dunn’s defensive production this season (currently 2nd in total steals and 3rd in steals per game), the external interest is understandable/believable.
As for the Clippers, in particular …. Well, as one of the NBA’s prominent title contenders this season, they’ll certainly be looking for anything to give them that extra edge once the playoffs start. And with less than two weeks to go until the trade deadline, rumors regarding their interest in a big man and an additional backcourt piece have filled the market.
Doesn't guarantee that they'll make a deal, of course, but the Clippers are said to be concerned about their lack of muscle up front compared to the Lakers' length as well as the ongoing health issues Kawhi Leonard and Paul George are battling
— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) January 23, 2020
So with Young and Dunn available, perhaps the Bulls could help them kill two birds with one stone. Unless … they’re really willing to wait for one of them.
As you can see in that quote above, Cowley also wrote that the Clippers could wait until after the season to target Dunn (when he’s a restricted free agent), which could be worrisome for the Bulls if they’re looking to keep him around. And although that sounds like a bit of a separate issue, it actually isn’t.
If it’s safe to assume there will be free agent interest in Dunn this summer – and I think it is – the Bulls must decide right now how much they’ll be willing to spend to keep him in Chicago. And if that number isn’t likely to match the highest offer sheets he receives elsewhere, they should more seriously consider extracting whatever value they can out of him right now.
Of course, the more Chicago adds to a broader deal with the Clippers for, say, Young, the muddier the transaction will likely become (thanks to Los Angeles’ lack of draft picks and highly expensive roster). Getting something done might be better than nothing.
Regardless, the Bulls should be listening to any and all offers sent their way. The team still might have their playoff hopes alive, but making the right trade now could be instrumental in establishing a clearer future.