With head coach Quin Snyder choosing to leave the Utah Jazz, more questions have begun to surface about the future of the organization, specifically those on the roster.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski has already reported that All-Star Donovan Mitchell is “unsettled” by his head coach’s departure. And this comes after months of speculation about whether or not the 25-year-old can see a future with a franchise that has faced six-straight early playoff exits. The other name to keep an eye on has been Rudy Gobert. Rumors of tension between him and Mitchell have been present for years, and many believe a drastic change would involve moving the center over the younger Mitchell.
The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor recently expanded on that point, and it came with a Chicago-flavored twist. Not only did O’Connor echo a report that the Raptors could be interested in acquiring Gobert, but he named the Bulls as a team that has already expressed interest, as well.
Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer reported last month that the Raptors have expressed interest in Gobert. I’ve heard those rumblings too. Sources have also indicated the Bulls are a team with interest in Gobert (and other centers on the market, including Knicks free agent Mitchell Robinson).
All things considered, this feels like pretty substantial news, especially since O’Connor includes an additional note about the Bulls’ interest in other big men on the market.
To be sure, it doesn’t come as a major surprise that Arturas Karnisovas and Marc Eversley would be interested in adding frontcourt reinforcements. The Bulls’ lack of size proved to be a major problem on the offensive glass and at the rim defensively this season. They held the 28th-ranked OREB% and allowed the 9th-most points in the paint per game. So, yes, finding a more defensive-minded backup or veteran power forward to pair with Nikola Vucevic surely feels like it would be high on the to-do list this summer. However, this news from O’Connor doesn’t necessarily suggest a pairing with Vucevic … but rather a full-blown revamp of the center position.
Gobert would be a significant change from what the team first aimed for with Vucevic. The former-Orlando big man provides a level of floor spacing and offensive versatility that Gobert – to a fault – can’t replicate. On the other hand, there is no question that Gobert is the more accomplished player. He is arguably the best defensive big man in the league and has three Defensive Player of the Year awards to prove it. His rim-protecting skills are second to none, and his shot-blocking prowess had him finish as the NBA’s leading shot-blocker last season. Dunks & Threes puts his estimated defensive plus-minus in the 99th percentile at an absurd +3.2.
Overall, Utah has sat top-10 in defensive rating six of the past seven seasons thanks, in large part, to Gobert’s services. They ranked top-3 in four of those years, as well.
The 29-year-old finished this season with another gaudy statistical campaign, averaging 15.6 points with a career-high 14.7 rebounds (3.7 OREB) and 2.1 blocks per game. His 71.3 percent field goal percentage also ranked first among players who appeared in at least 60 games and averaged at least 15 points a night. In other words, Gobert is the real deal … but is he the right fit for the Bulls?
Gobert would be a win-now addition who would very easily cost more to acquire than Vucevic. On top of that, he’s owed $167.7 million over the next four seasons ($41 million AAV with a $46.6 million player option in 2025-2026). There is no question that in today’s NBA that is a lot of money to hand an aging center, especially when a franchise is also hoping to hand their current star (Zach LaVine) a new max deal.
With that said, on the court, there is reason to believe Gobert would fit nicely around Chicago’s current nucleus. While he may not provide the floor spacing that this front office seems to covet, he would be a terrific pick-and-roll partner for both Zach LaVine and DeMar DeRozan. Not to mention, he would immediately turn this team into a more consistent two-way unit, covering up mistakes made by the team’s offense-first All-Stars. But, again, is it worth the financial commitment? Especially after we’ve seen Gobert teams lose repeatedly in the playoffs and struggle against small-ball lineups?
Even if we move off the Gobert idea, though, O’Connor’s latest report suggests the front office could be interested in another big move. Even Mitchell Robinson, who the Bulls were rumored to make a run at during the trade deadline, doesn’t project to be a backup option. Now, that doesn’t mean the Bulls aren’t also evaluating other options that can play behind Vucevic, but this does seem to imply that Karnisovas is open to moving Vucevic (who is headed into the final year of his contract and up for an extension, by the way).
At the end of the day, I’m not sure how much weight to put on this rumor just yet. I don’t at all doubt that the Bulls are searching for more answers in the frontcourt, but I do have to question whether or not they are prepared to go as big as Gobert. I guess we’ll just have to see if this rumor gains any traction as the long offseason continues.