Bulls’ front office has interesting decisions to make on trade front
There are few pieces being waved around the league right now, but Marc Eversley and Arturas Karnisovas have shown an aggressiveness to strike when they feel the time is right.
There are always moves to be made — and that’s how Arturas Karnisovas, the Bulls’ executive vice president of basketball operations, and general manager Marc Eversley have handled their business since last season’s trade deadline.
Whether it was prying Nikola Vucevic from the Magic in March or going the sign-and-trade route and acquiring Lonzo Ball and DeMar DeRozan over the summer, this front office has brought an aggressiveness not seen by the Bulls in quite some time.
Are they done?
Unlikely, with the Feb. 10 trade deadline now on the horizon.
But where it becomes difficult is determining what pieces will be available around the NBA between now and then, and with whom the Bulls would be willing to part.
If they’re looking to move contracts that are expiring or could be, then forward Derrick Jones Jr. or guard/forward Troy Brown could come into play. If they’re set on moving off a younger developmental piece, then guard Coby White is a candidate to be traded. The problem there is that while the Bulls could get an interesting return for White because of his potential, his rookie salary would limit high-ticket players in return, even when packaged. Basically, the Bulls would be in the market for another team’s problem: a young player who either wants out or hasn’t worked out.
Kings forward Marvin Bagley III has been a subject of speculation for more than a month, reportedly unhappy with the organization — and the feeling seems to be mutual. The Bulls, 76ers, Jazz, Pistons, Magic, Pacers, Spurs and Mavericks have all been mentioned in Bagley rumors, but the likelihood of the Bulls becoming front-runners is small, especially if the Kings are looking to blow up the team and package Bagley with shooter Buddy Hield, who still has $40 million guaranteed coming the next two years after he makes $23 million this season.
Does White and Jones for Bagley and, say, forward Moe Harkless work? Financially, it fits, but what would the Kings really get out of that deal? If Hield is moved, there would be a place for White in Sacramento, but otherwise it’s more backcourt logjam. Jones, with an expiring contract, would help the Kings get more cap relief but would offer little else in the big picture.
Another team dealing with major underachievement issues — and popping up in rumors — is the Trail Blazers. But again, what do they have that could interest the Bulls, and vice versa? The Bulls are shopping for a power forward, and Larry Nance Jr. would give them a lot of what they need there. But as long as point guards CJ McCollum and Damian Lillard are both in Portland, White makes little sense to send there.
Within the Eastern Conference, all eyes are on the Pacers, who reportedly are considering trading away numerous pieces so they can rebuild. Domantas Sabonis would give the Bulls everything they could want from a power forward — think a more skilled version of what Daniel Theis was late last season — but the Bulls are unlikely to be able to meet the asking price, especially if they see Patrick Williams as their power forward of the future.
The good news is it’s still December and the number of teams getting a reality check in the standings will only grow as the deadline nears, deepening the pool of who’s available in trades.
Until then, Karnisovas and Eversley will be lurking.