The trade deadline is eight days away, which means we have no time for chitchat … just rumors!
To Bull-eve or Not to Bull-eve?
After a wave of reports centering around the Chicago Bulls’ interest in Detroit Pistons forward Jerami Grant, two new names have finally entered the chat this week. Multiple reports linked the depleted Bulls to Boston guard Dennis Schroder and Brooklyn forward Paul Millsap.
Rather than rehash all my thoughts on those specific names, I’ll point you in the direction of our previous post:
— Bleacher Nation Bulls (@BN_Bulls) February 2, 2022
We also talked a little bit more about how much weight to put on these rumors in our latest round of bullets, which you can check out here.
All things considered, knowing exactly where this front office stands on any player is nearly impossible. Not only did they prove to have a knack for the blindside move over their first trade deadline and free agency period, but the Sun-Times recently reported that several executives have referred to Chicago as “one of the toughest organizations to get a read on.”
This point could very well be reflected in the Schroder and Millsap rumors. On one hand, these are two veteran players for a contending team; on the other hand, a clear case could be made that neither makes a ton of sense for a Bulls team thin on assets. Schroder may help in the short term, but he would only crowd the team’s backcourt rotation further. As for Millsap, he certainly slides into a position of need, but does he really move the needle this late in his career? Don’t get me wrong, both can be easily tied to the organization thanks to prior relationships and free-agency rumors, but what if that’s the only basis for the rumor in the first place? In other words, is this being assumed by other executives as opposed to actually something talked about between the Bulls brass?
What makes Chicago that much tougher to read is the fact that they seem to really love their two youngest players. Coby White has made it through Arturas Karnisovas and Marc Eversley’s mass exodus of the previous regime’s players. He has been placed in a more fitting sixth man role this season, and he’s started to thrive, averaging 15.5 points on a reliable 46.6 percent shooting from the field and 37.1 percent from downtown since the start of the New Year. Not to mention, his defense has looked much improved.
As for Williams, while he may not perfectly align with the team’s win-now mentality, there is no denying he has tremendous potential. He was this new front office’s first draft selection, and they showed a lot of faith/desire to speed up his development last season by starting him in all 71 games he appeared in. While he’s been a popular name to include in trade packages this deadline, the Bulls could very well see him as more valuable than the player they would get in return.
The Washington Wizards – who started the season 10-3 – sit 23-27 and 12th in the Eastern Conference.
Life has been rough for this organization that thought they finally had the depth they needed around Bradley Beal to push themselves into the Top-6. However, now stuck fighting for a play-in sport for the second year in a row, the skepticism around a possible Beal departure this offseason has only grown more intense. To try to calm the storm, yet again, the Wizards are reportedly in the market for a big-time move.
According to Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report, the Wizards are interested in adding Pacers All-Star big man Domantas Sabonis to help keep Beal happy. The asking price would reportedly be one very familiar to Bulls fans:
“Word has since trickled around the league that Beal would welcome playing with Sabonis, although one source with knowledge of the situation maintained Beal has not actively encouraged the Wizards to acquire him,” wrote Fischer. “League personnel say the Pacers are seeking a package similar to or greater than the haul Nikola Vucevic drew for the Orlando Magic last season. Only Sacramento, New Orleans and Washington have been linked by league personnel as Sabonis suitors with significant interest.”
HoopsHype’s Michael Scotto too pumped some recent info into the Wizards rumor mill, reporting that Jerami Grant continues to be a player of interest for the Wizards. He also went on to share that free-agent point guard signing Spencer Dinwiddie could be on the table since his play with Beal “hasn’t gone according to plan.” The Athletic recently reported the same thing, with David Aldridge and Josh Robbins commenting that it’s been a “difficult fit” in Washington.
Who knows exactly where all of this will end up, but it sure sounds like the Wizards could enter full-blown panic mode and pay up for a big roster change to ensure Beal stays happy. And, if this does happen to be the right more, it could certainly vault the team up the East standings in the short-term. I also have to wonder whether or not a big-time trade could lead to another three-team deal. The Chicago Bulls did business with Washington last season, and the Wizards do have some frontcourt players who might be of interest to Karnisovas.
If You Can’t Take the Heat (or the Cavs?) …
Miami currently sits 1.0 game behind Chicago for the East lead.
Cleveland currently sits 1.5 games behind Chicago for the East lead.
Neither is going anywhere.
Not only is there a world where Miami adds guard Victor Oladipo back into the mix this season, but recent rumors have swirled that they could look to bolster their frontcourt. The Athletic’s John Hollinger recently reported that Miami has been one of the more “persistent” teams in a Christian Wood pursuit. The Houston Rockets big man is one of the most impactful bigs in the market this trade season, averaging 17.7 points and 10.4 rebounds to go along with a 36.8 percent clip from behind the arc.
Considering he has found his most success at the center position, his fit in Miami with Bam Adebayo in the picture feels a bit off. However, he does have plenty of experience playing both frontcourt spots, and if any coach or institution can get the most out of him at power forward, it would (unfortunately) be the Heat. For a Bulls team that lacks size, this could spell trouble in their two future matchups against Miami. Not to mention, it could be the kind of high-upside move that pushes the Heat comfortably into the top of the East.
As for the Cavaliers, they remain persistent in upgrading their breakout roster this season. They have previously been attached to guys like Caris LeVert and Eric Gordon in hopes of adding backcourt scoring to fill the void created by injuries to Collin Sexton and Ricky Rubio. However, Fischer of Bleacher Report shares that the asking price for both players could be too high for the Cavs. With that in mind, we’ll have to see if the Cavaliers start to look elsewhere or decide to standpat. The Bulls would surely prefer the ladder.
Odds and Ends
• Michael Scotto of HoopsHype has reported that the New Orleans Pelicans will be buyers at the deadline. They appear to be interested in a number of players that have previously been connected to the Bulls. Sitting 11th in the West, and just two games behind the Portland Trail Blazers, the hope is clearly to make a second-half push toward the Play-In Tournament.
Sources: The Pelicans appear to be buyers heading into the trade deadline and have expressed interest in several players, including Harrison Barnes, Robert Covington and Eric Gordon. Plus, more on Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Jaxson Hayes and Josh Hart.
— Michael Scotto (@MikeAScotto) February 2, 2022
• Boston failing to complete a deal? *pretends to be shocked*
But the Wolves were not interested as they sought to maintain flexibility.
— The Athletic NBA (@TheAthleticNBA) February 2, 2022
• A lot more little nuggets in here …
With much attention on Bradley Beal’s upcoming free agency, Domantas Sabonis has emerged as a trade target for the Washington Wizards, sources said. More intel at @BR_NBA on Toronto and Goran Dragic, Utah and Joe Ingles, Boston, Phoenix and others: https://t.co/7XytaQwSZY
— Jake Fischer (@JakeLFischer) February 2, 2022