As soon as head coach Jim Boylen consistently refused to include Denzel Valentine in the Bulls rotation, he quickly became one of the likeliest Bulls to be traded at the deadline. Indeed, even as he’s received a bit more playing time lately (due to the team’s many injuries), those early reports that the team would “jump” at the opportunity to trade him felt – at once – obvious, accurate, and probable.
Well, according to K.C. Johnson (NBC Sports Chicago), at least two teams may have thrown their name into the ring for Valentine just a couple days before the deadline:
According to two rival executives, the 76ers and Grizzlies are possible landing spots for the former lottery pick, who had fallen completely out of favor with coach Jim Boylen before the recent spate of injuries forced him back into the lineup. Valentine for Zhaire Smith; who says no?
Just yesterday we spoke about the lack of movement on a possible Valentine trade, but this certainly re-stirs that pot. The 76ers, in particular, have been a widely speculated team-of-interest over the past several weeks, and this confirms their potential involvement. And it makes sense: In desperate need of some off-the-bench shooting, Valentine would be a low-cost, low-risk bid as they continue their playoff push.
Previously, it felts like a Valentine swap for a second-round pick and expiring contract would be the most the Bulls could get in return. Valentine is hitting restricted free agency this summer, and while he’s proven to be a worthy shooter, there are still plenty of question marks about his durability and long-term impact in a given rotation.
When it comes to second-round picks though, the 76ers sure do have a lot fo offer up:
Re Denzel to Philly talk, 76ers have:
Hawks 2020 2nd
Knicks or Nets 2020 2nd (more favorable)
Mavs 2020 2nd
Rockets 2021 2nd (swap)
Nuggets 2021 2nd
Knicks 2021 2nd
Hawks or Hornets or Nets 2023 2nd (most favorable)
Heat 2024 2nd
Plus all their own 2nds except 2022
— Will Gottlieb (@wontgottlieb) February 4, 2020
The idea of grabbing Zhaire Smith in return though is somewhat intriguing. ESPN Insider Bobby Marks said yesterday on the Hoops Collective Podcast that Smith could be a tradable piece for Philadelphia, but he appears to have little value. If you’re the Chicago Bulls though, why not take a waiver on a 20-year-old former first-round pick? For a guy like Valentine, that’s not a bad return.
To be sure, Smith has struggled to find his footing ever since stepping into the NBA, but grabbing a player who’s already had a bit of NBA seasoning may be better than an additional second-rounder.
As for the Memphis Grizzlies, this is the first we’ve heard about their interest, though they have popped up elsewhere around the trade market, as they make a surprising push for the Western Conference playoffs. So I guess we shouldn’t be too surprised by their efforts to add some depth in any form.
Regardless, with Valentine set to be a restricted free agent this summer and clearly not part of the Bulls long-term plans, the Bulls would be wise to strike a deal with one of these two teams. Don’t let him walk this offseason for absolutely nothing. #FreeDenzel