Trade-deadline week is upon the Bulls as they keep losing to good teams

The Bulls dropped to 0-9 since Feb. 10 against teams with plus-.500 records after the loss to the Jazz on Monday. But will a trade partner show itself by the time the deadline comes and goes on Thursday?

SHARE Trade-deadline week is upon the Bulls as they keep losing to good teams
Lauri Markkanen still has his Bulls T-shirt for now.

Lauri Markkanen still has his Bulls T-shirt for now.

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Nothing was imminent.

That was the vibe from coach Billy Donovan.

Who knows if he’ll be feeling the same way on Tuesday? Welcome to NBA trade-deadline week, where nothing imminent on Monday could turn into some new nameplates on lockers by Thursday.

“There are more and more phone calls probably taking place among the league, among all these executives, but I think the one thing that’s great is I trust that [executive vice president of basketball operations] Arturas [Karnisovas] is going to make any kind of decision that’s always going to try to help our team get better, and he’s included me on all those decisions, and we’ve talked about all those things,’’ Donovan said. “Nothing has come across from Arturas to me about, ‘Hey, this is a solid deal, and this is out there. We’ve got to make a decision on this. What do you think?’ That hasn’t taken place. Obviously, those things could happen as we get closer to the date, but I think Arturas is always going to be constantly looking at, ‘How can we improve the team?’ ’’

That’s a seemingly easy question with difficult answers. First, the Bulls have to decide what’s realistic for them this season. Considering the last week and the 120-95 loss to the Jazz on Monday, limping into a play-in game and hoping to get hot for at least one playoff series might be the best-case scenario.

And a lot would have to go right for them if the roster stays intact.

Beating up on the woebegone Pistons like they did Sunday was appreciated but expected. The Bulls (19-23), however, continue to fall short against plus-.500 teams; they’re 0-9 since Feb. 10 against such teams.

It doesn’t help when the home team allows Rudy Gobert to come a block short of his first career triple-double and Lauri Markkanen goes 3-for-12 for eight points.

Factor in more inconsistent defense and a poor shooting night from three-point range (6-for-26), and even 27 points from Zach LaVine weren’t going to make this one close.

“Great defensive team with [Gobert] at the rim,’’ Markkanen said. “We just got stagnant. A rough night, these kinds of things happen. It just wasn’t going in.’’

So would it make more sense to try to acquire draft assets at the expense of winning games? That’s another option that’s out there, but it also requires a dance partner.

“Anytime there are deals to be done, it takes two parties to make it work,’’ Donovan said. 

But what if the Bulls have a chance to add players who would instantly improve the starting unit? Could they be buyers who are willing to give up draft assets and depth to grab, say, Lonzo Ball from the Pelicans and finally have a true lead guard since the rebuild started?

That’s definitely another option.

The problem with all those scenarios, however, is the posturing that’s taking place around the league. There’s a reason trades often come right at the deadline. Teams want to wait for the best offer, but they don’t want to show their hand too early and let another front office take advantage of the situation.

“Sometimes you put your cards on the table, a team can go to another team and say, ‘Listen, I’ve got this on the table,’ ’’ Donovan said. “So right now it’s a feeling-out stage. Everybody is talking, and as we get closer and closer to the 25th, that’s when things start to become a little more solidified and a little more serious.’’

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