Earlier this week, the NBA trade market opened its doors for business. December 15th marked the day that over 100 players who signed fresh deals this offseason could become trade eligible. So while conversations about nearly any trade could have taken place beforehand, those discussions now hold significantly more weight.
With this new pool of players officially available, we should expect to see rumors come in bigger and bigger waves as the February 10th deadline nears. And while the Chicago Bulls front office brain trust of Arturas Karnisovas and Marc Eversley has been good about keeping their name out of hallway whispers, it will become that much more difficult this season as they establish themselves as a true playoff threat.
According to the Action Network’s Matt Moore, people around the league anticipate the Bulls will add talent in the coming months. More specifically, he reports the organization could look for additional second unit wing defenders.
The Bulls are thought of as buyers in the market, predictably, given their hot start. The loss of Patrick Williams has been real, and Chicago has been looking for a wing defender to bring off the bench, multiple sources confirmed.
The Bulls were fighting for a play-in spot last season. Now, they’re fighting for a top-3 seed in the Eastern Conference. If the organization felt comfortable buying at last season’s deadline, it’s easy to believe they would do the same in this significantly more competitive position.
The bigger question is how much is this front office looking to buy? And, thus, spend? Scouring the market for just an additional reserve wing defender would suggest not all that much (even if it is a reasonable route). Of course, we’re early in this process, so things can change, but trying to improve around the margins is arguably the easiest path. We have to remember the Bulls are not currently flooded with assets. The team used a lot of what they had to build the core we see today. More importantly, this core seems to be among the league’s best this season, and the risk that comes with disrupting that chemistry via trade is something that needs to be considered.
I’d also be remiss if I didn’t mention the luxury tax. As much as I hate the idea of the fourth most valuable franchise in the NBA trying to save money, this would technically be the season to do it. The luxury tax this year is set to be the highest in league history, which (duh) means the bonus for the teams outside the luxury tax this season is also set to be the highest in league history. The Bulls are currently $2.9 million below the luxury tax, according to ESPN’s Bobby Marks.
Don’t get me wrong, if the right move to add another high-impact talent is there, the Bulls will have to consider it. Coby White, Patrick Williams, and the Portland first-rounder does give Chicago at least some kind of asset pool. But trying to improve this team’s depth and add another name with playoff experience could be all this roster needs to make a convincing playoff run. Then, depending on how the season wraps up, the front office can make more drastic changes in the summer.
The last thing I will say on Moore’s specific report is the idea of adding a reserve wing defender makes me scratch my head a bit. As far as perimeter defenders go, Alex Caruso, Lonzo Ball, Javonte Green, and Ayo Dosunmu have been good enough to help lead Chicago to a top-8 defensive rating. Not to mention, Derrick Jones Jr. also has the length to guard opposing wings, and we also can’t forget Troy Brown Jr. is a decent high-energy defender. The Bulls should instead prioritize frontcourt depth and bench scoring. They would still very much benefit from a more sizable rim protector and rebounder next to Nikola Vucevic come playoff time. Likewise, the bench continues to be among the league-worst at scoring the basketball, so finding someone who can hit a few open shots next to DeRozan (hopefully, White becomes that guy, too) feels necessary.
For more on how the Bulls should approach this trade season, check this out:
As the Trade Market Opens Up, Where do the Chicago Bulls Fit in?https://t.co/iJynph7x1C
— Bleacher Nation Bulls (@BN_Bulls) December 14, 2021