The Chicago Bulls have one of the league’s most sought-after trade targets sitting on their roster, but that doesn’t mean they are entertaining offers.
According to The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor, Artruas Karnisovas is currently telling interested teams that veteran forward Thaddeus Young is off the table. Young, 32, is currently averaging 12.1 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 4.4 assists per game. He is also shooting a 61.5 effective field goal percentage and has an assist-to-usage percentage that sits in the 96th percentile (1.14).
Bulls executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas is telling teams that Thaddeus Young isn’t available for trade, according to multiple league sources. Executives wonder whether Karnisovas is just posturing to gain leverage since Young is highly sought after, but he does help facilitate development for their youth.
Ok, so there are a couple of things we can take away from this. First of all, if Karnisovas is legitimately not engaging in talks about Young in any capacity, then it almost solidifies the fact that this front office wants to make a push for the playoffs. Young has arguably been this team’s second-most important player, and he has been instrumental in giving the Bulls one of the most stable benches in the league. Similarly, he has played tremendous basketball alongside All-Star Zach LaVine. The two have clocked more minutes than any other two-man combination on the team, and they average about a +9.8 (per 100 possessions) when sharing the court, per Basketball-Reference.
With a record of 16-18 and currently slated 9th in the Eastern Conference, there is no question the Bulls will be in the mix for a playoff or play-in tournament spot over the course of the second half. Removing Young from the equation would not only eliminate a player who appears in all of the team’s best lineups but force an adjustment period for a young team in the middle of a run for the playoffs. More wins can oftentimes lead to improved development, and that must be the way the front office views things right now. After all, The Athletic’s Shams Charania did say on 670 The Score that Young’s impact being the scenes is “probably been ever greater than his on-court play.”
We should also note that this isn’t the first time the front office has shown a hard-headedness toward moving their veterans. We learned just last week – thanks to the IndyStar – that the Indiana Pacers reportedly called about free-agent signee Garrett Temple earlier this season, and the Bulls hung up the phone.
The last thing I think is at least worth a mention when addressing Young’s future in Chicago is his relationship with LaVine. The Bulls first-time All-Star and possible future cornerstone has referred to Young as “his vet” numerous times. He and Young were first together in Minnesota, and Young was the one Bulls player to show up in LaVine’s All-Star announcement surprise video.
Of course, we also have to ask ourselves how easy it might be for Karnisovas’ mind to change. O’Connor would not have shared the latter part of his statement if there weren’t at least some inkling that the Bulls could pivot from this stance. The trade deadline is not until March 25th, and the front office knows they hold all the cards. Playing hardball now could net a great return later. With how coveted Young appears to be, we should have no doubt teams will continue to call even if this news is out there.
I suspect this isn’t the end of Young trade rumors – far from it. While it could give us a better idea of the direction for this team moving forward, it could also prove to be a negotiation tactic. Buckle-up.