Patrick Williams Has a “Mountain of Trade Value,” But Should the Bulls Use it on Jerami Grant?

As the February 10th NBA trade deadline creeps closer and closer, no name has been thrown around more than Jerami Grant.

The Detroit Pistons forward is arguably the most coveted player available, with a long list of contenders and playoff hopefuls reportedly in the mix for the two-way veteran. Considering a clear lack of depth at the position and an unexpected surge up the NBA ranks, the Bulls were long speculated to be a team that could arise in the Grant sweepstakes. And that is exactly what has happened.

We learned last week the Chicago Bulls have been “linked” to Grant, per NBC Sports Chicago’s K.C. Johnson. Again, the report may not have come as a massive surprise, but it did force us to officially consider the possibility and feasibility of a big-time deadline move. Not only has Grant proven to be one of the game’s better all-around forwards over the past couple of seasons, but his number of suitors has skyrocketed because of it. More interested teams mean more competition for an asset-deprived Bulls team, meaning any significant move would surely have to include 2020 No. 4-overall pick Patrick Williams.

Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer recently wrote about Grant’s market, and he too mentioned the Bulls as a reasonable landing spot. More specifically, while mentioning Williams as the key piece to that trade, he clarified just how valuable the second-year forward appears to be (emphasis mine):

Which brings us to the mighty Chicago Bulls. Currently holding the top seed in the East, Chicago still has one potential all-in move up its sleeve, as injured second-year forward Patrick Williams has a mountain of trade value despite being out for the season with a dislocated wrist.

At only 20-years-old, Williams possesses the kind of versatile offensive potential and multi-positional defensive capabilities that could arguably make him an even better player than Grant down the road. However, still raw, it’s unclear whether Williams can reach his potential quick enough to help this newly competitive Bulls team reach the next level.

Grant, by contrast, could come in and give the Bulls a higher short-term ceiling, elevating their rim-protection immensely and providing yet another player who can create his own shot on the offensive end. A championship window is only open for so long, which is why the Bulls simply have to put Grant’s name on the whiteboard.

But sometimes going all-in doesn’t pay off. Sometimes, building out chemistry and consistency opens up an even more sustainable championship window. Arturas Karnisovas hinted at that kind of approach during his interview with 670 The Score. The Bulls executive vice president of basketball operations mentioned teams like the Bucks, Nets, and 76ers as organizations who have let their star cores marinate. He also made it very clear he likes the chemistry of this current roster, and he will go into this deadline cautious of harming that.

The reality is that Grant could create a disjointed presence inside the Bulls locker room. Someone who has grown used to being a more high-usage player would have to take a back seat to more established and proven playmakers like Zach LaVine, DeMar DeRozan, and Nikola Vucevic.

In fact, according to Fischer, that isn’t something he wants to do: “Grant also has little interest in joining a new situation where he doesn’t feature as a primary offensive option, sources said.”

So do you bite the apple if a worm is in it? Essentially, this is what the Bulls have to ask themselves. Are they hungry enough for a championship right now to risk messing up a good thing and/or eliminating even more organizational flexibility? I’m not so sure, and neither is Fischer (emphasis mine once again):

“For Chicago to move Williams, Karnisovas would need absolute confidence Grant is the final ingredient for a championship run. The front office has already mortgaged the majority of its future draft capital, and sending out Williams, Derrick Jones Jr. and the Blazers’ protected 2022 first-rounder would lock the Bulls into an inflexible future. At this juncture, Chicago appears uncomfortable with that,” Fischer wrote.

Karnisovas feeling uncomfortable with a move for Grant does fall in line with his comments on 670 The Score and it does fall in line with prior reports that rival executives expect the Bulls want to keep Williams.

On top of that, we have to consider the whole “mountain of trade value” thing for Williams. Sure, trade value can fluctuate more than Midwest weather, but if Williams is said to be a prized player even with a dislocated wrist, I think it’s fair to assume he will remain that way as he works his way back onto the floor. The perceived value of Williams around the league not only speaks to his extremely high potential, but it also leaves us wondering whether using that trade value on Grant is worth it. What if the Bulls can use Williams in an even better trade down the road? It’s worth considering.

Lastly, and I don’t think this point can be underlined enough, we have to consider the money. The Bulls might be concerned about giving up on Williams too early, but they might also be concerned about removing practically any ounce of flexibility they have left. Grant would come with a contract extension expectation on the horizon (Fischer reported that Grant wants a four-year, $112 million deal this offseason). The Bulls would have to deal with this at the same time they are expected to hand Zach LaVine a max contract of his own. Conversely, Chicago has the option to keep Williams’ $8 million AAV on the books to potentially improve more around the margins or watch him become a Grant 2.0.

We talked early this trade season about whether or not the Bulls should go big or go small at the deadline. I still go back and forth when thinking about the best options, but I do feel somewhat comfortable now saying that Grant isn’t the way to go, particularly if Williams is the asking price. While I see his fit on paper, I’m not sure if it’s the role he wants and the path he craves. In today’s league, especially with an already-top-seeded team, that could be enough concern to avoid making the move.

written by

Elias Schuster is the Lead Chicago Bulls writer at Bleacher Nation. He started with BN full-time in 2019 immediately after graduating from the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign with a degree in Journalism (yes, he started with the Jim Boylen Era). Since joining, Elias has been the driving force behind Bulls and NBA content for both the site and social accounts. You can follow him on Twitter/X @Schuster_Elias.

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