At a certain point – probably earlier on than any of us were willing to admit – the realistic playoff hopes for this team went from perfectly plausible, especially given the weak Eastern Conference competition, to nearly evaporated. But a few wins here, a few close losses there, and some terrible Eastern Conference performances along the way has just barely kept that door open. Until today.
With Otto Porter Jr., Wendell Carter Jr., Daniel Gafford, and now Lauri Markkanen all out for extended periods of time with various injuries, there’s no fooling anyone anymore. The season is officially over. It’s time to move on.
And indeed, it’s time to start thinking about the future (again), which includes considering any and all trades now to improve the team next season and beyond. The deadline is less than two weeks away – so here’s the latest.
- Thad Young continues to generate the most legitimate interest around the league, particularly from the Clippers, though he’s since been joined by Kris Dunn, who’s apparently also caught their eye. We discussed the rumor in full earlier today, and I encourage you to check that post out. In short, the Clippers may ultimately wish to wait on Dunn until he’s a restricted free agent after this season, but even that should play a part in the Bulls calculus before the trade deadline.
- And while most of the Bulls more serious trade rumors have revolved around Young and Dunn, they’re not the only obvious candidates on the roster. Or rather, the bench. Sitting in the back row all this time is Denzel Valentine, a player the Bulls would reportedly “jump at the opportunity” to trade (and given his total dearth of playing time, that’s not much of a surprise).
- After initial reports of his availability made the rounds, K.C. Johnson confirmed his availability, and even added some additional news this morning: “Sources said at least one team has expressed interest in Valentine. It’s also possible the Bulls could package Valentine with Thad Young.” Why hello.
— K.C. Johnson (@KCJHoop) January 24, 2020
- Perhaps we already knew the Bulls would be willing to move Valentine (if not based on his usage, then based on the literal reports to that effect), but obviously a trade takes two to tango. And now, for the first time, we know that there is at least one interested party. I wouldn’t expect to get much for Valentine, despite some legitimately useful skills, but getting something now is better than getting nothing as he rides the bench … always.
- Hey! A deal!
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) January 24, 2020
- Bleacher Report has a top-10 list of the players who could be realistically dealt at the trade deadline – Derrick Rose continues to draw mentions in that light – but the Bulls aren’t acquiring any of them and no Bulls made the list. I offer it only as a little bit of interesting background on the deadline as a whole.
- The Boston Celtics have reportedly shown interest in trading for Wizards big Davis Bertans, but as many as four other teams have been connected (Hawks?Lakers, Nuggets, and 76ers). The Celtics, with three first round picks in the upcoming draft, could have the best shot at making a deal happen.
- Kevin Love continues to privately desire a trade – according to sources reported by Cleveland.com – but hasn’t actually demanded one from the Cavs. And, of course, trading him (and his big contract) won’t be easy. With that said, a weak upcoming free agent class may lead the Cavaliers to hold onto him – regardless – until the offseason, when his value might be higher and more teams could reasonably be involved.
- Back in late December,The Athletic reported that the Warriors “have been monitoring Karl-Anthony Towns’ situation in Minnesota.” But more recently the Timberwolves have insisted that he remains wholly untouchable. “He’s the best player on our team,” said Timberwolves President Gersson Rosas at the United Center … after a loss to the Bulls, “and he’s the guy we’re building around. Everything we do is to help him become the best player and to help us become the best team we can be.” Fair enough (though no one else on that team should be untouchable … and it’s not like they have a clear path to the postseason).
- Also denying reported trade rumors? The Milwaukee Bucks: “We have not talked to any teams about trading [Eric Bledsoe], since the day that we traded for him,” Bucks GM Jon Horst told Bleacher Report. “And I think it’s evident, pretty strongly, in the fact that we extended Eric, what he means to us.”
- Now, that’s obviously a pretty strong rebuttal to the work of NBA reporter Gery Woelfel, who got an Eastern Conference executive to pretty clearly confirm that although the Bucks may not be actively shopping Bledsoe, he’s one of the guys “that everyone knows are available,” but it’s also not the first time these rumors have come up. Scott Polacek has more on the story here, but for whatever it’s worth, I think it’s pretty unlikely that Milwaukee would consider this sort of move before the deadline.
- And finally:
Bradley Beal is very good and I wonder what number he'll wear when he goes to a team that has retired the No. 3.
— Tim Reynolds (@ByTimReynolds) January 23, 2020
- I’m here for vague references dangling the idea of a trade that sends Bradley Beal to the Heat (who have retired the No. 3 for Dwyane Wade). How that type of deal gets pulled off before the deadline is beyond me, but it’s not like the Heat don’t have young, cost-efficient talent that wouldn’t intrigue the Wizards.
Elias Schuster contributed to this post.