As the Trade Market Opens Up, Where do the Chicago Bulls Fit in?

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As the Trade Market Opens Up, Where do the Chicago Bulls Fit in?

Chicago Bulls

The lights are shining. The cookies are baking. The snow is falling. And the trades are brewing. ‘Tis the season, folks!

While the NBA’s trade deadline doesn’t come until February 10th, this week unofficially opens the door to a world of possibilities. On Wednesday, December 15th, the majority of players who signed a new deal this offseason become eligible to be traded. Whether an organization is trying to take the next competitive step or press the reset button, this is the week where practically any and all trade conversations can start in earnest.

The nearing deadline is likely why we’ve seen more updates surface about high-profile trade targets like Ben Simmons. The Athletic recently reported that conversations around Simmons were “heating up”  as the 76ers continue their quest for top talent in exchange. Meanwhile, Bleacher Reports’ Jake Fischer reported that the Brooklyn Nets have been open to discussing trades for Kyrie Irving. Names like Jerami Grant, CJ McCollum, and even Russell Westbrook have been thrown around in rumors, as well. To be clear, none of these players signed a new contract this offseason, meaning their franchises have been able to trade them this whole time. But the pool of trade-eligible players (which ESPN mapped out here) will now grow significantly across the league, giving front offices that much more talent to mix in and out of possible deals for these big-time targets.

For the Chicago Bulls, this deadline means Lonzo Ball, DeMar DeRozan, Alex Caruso, Javonte Green, Tony Bradley, and Alize Johnson can now all be moved elsewhere. Do I envision any of these players actually ending up in a trade over the next couple of months? Not particularly, but the NBA is a chaotic place.

The fact of the matter is that the Bulls are also damn good. The 17-10 start to the season has been better than nearly anyone expected, and the team currently sits 2nd in the Eastern Conference with a real chance to make noise come playoff time. Not only does history show that Arturas Karnisovas and Co. have a tendency to be aggressive in the open market (free agency or trade), but isn’t the goal to keep building a contender? The Bulls are closer to that than they have been since the Derrick Rose era, which means the time to stop building isn’t now.

To be sure, I’m not suggesting names like Ball, DeRozan, or Caruso will be thrown into trade talks this season. Not even close. All three feel pivotal in helping the Bulls get to where they want to go. The same can be said about Zach LaVine and Nikola Vucevic. Those five appear to be the core Karnisovas and Co. expect to roll with, and rightfully so after such a tremendous start. The status of Bradley, Green, Johnson, and the rest of the Bulls roster, however, isn’t as clear. And, yes, that includes Coby White and Patrick Williams.

Let me also make one thing very clear: I don’t expect the Bulls to shake up the roster very much this season. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right? Messing with the shocking chemistry of this team doesn’t feel like a good idea, and seeing how far this group can go feels worthwhile before making any drastic adjustments. With that said, while you don’t fix what’s not broken, you can upgrade it. And I expect this front office will always search for upgrades.

If a team comes to the Bulls and asks about role players like Derrick Jones Jr. or Javonte Green and youngins like White and Williams, they might as well listen. Competitive windows come and go quickly in the NBA. So if somehow a discussion for Harrison Barnes or Jerami Grant materializes around a young piece like White or Williams (THIS IS A SIMPLE HYPOTHETICAL AND NOTHING MORE … WE ARE NOT EVEN TAKING MONEY INTO CONSIDERATION), I’d have to be comfortable with Chicago humoring that. If the team already invested in a 32-year-old in DeRozan and a 31-year-old in Nikola Vucevic, investing in more win-now talent is reasonable.

I guess the above paragraph is the overarching point I’m trying to make. Trade season is inching closer and closer, and the Bulls are among one of the NBA’s best teams. While I expect them to stay put with what they have (it’s been great!), the NBA’s best teams always consider ways to make themselves that much better for a potential playoff run. I expect the Bulls to do that this winter.


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Author: Elias Schuster

Elias Schuster is the Lead Bulls Writer at Bleacher Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @Schuster_Elias.