Bulls need to use offseason as opportunity for big swings

The Eastern Conference won’t be getting any weaker, and the upcoming CBA won’t make life easier for a quick turnaround. That’s why the Bulls should get off the train of continuity and make an aggressive move this summer.

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Jalen Suggs

The Bulls have to start taking the replacement for Lonzo Ball at point guard serious business, and Orlando’s Jalen Suggs is always all about business.

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The Bulls are in NBA hell.

The rest of the league knows it, and if executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas is honest with himself, he knows it, as well.

After three full seasons on the job, all Karnisovas & Co. have to show for it is rebuilding the Bulls back to mediocrity with limited future draft assets and a salary-cap ceiling that doesn’t match the underachieving talent.

Project “Blow Up’’ is not an option, according to Karnisovas, who seems fine with staying on the path of continuity. The organization is content to hold out hope for a miraculous Lonzo Ball recovery from three surgeries on his left knee, while beginning negotiations on Nikola Vucevic’s contract extension over the last week. The Bulls are looking to lock up the big man for the next three years.

Big swings aren’t in the summer forecast.

It’s a dangerous mindset to have with the Bulls’ current roster construction, especially with a new collective-bargaining agreement on the horizon in a few years designed to hamper quick turnarounds even more.

If there was an offseason to roll the dice, it’s this one.

Blazing a Trail

There has been rumor smoke between the Trail Blazers and Bulls, but still no fire. Not even a spark.

That’s because the true intent of what Portland wants to do with Damian Lillard is still the great unknown.

Are they finally willing to part ways with the veteran guard? If that’s the case, the Bulls and Portland have nothing to discuss. But if they want to keep Lillard and go into win-now mode, a phone call could be made.

Whatever the package — whether it’s one headlined by DeMar DeRozan or by Zach LaVine — the return for the Bulls is that No. 3 overall pick, which means the likely draft rights to guard Scoot Henderson.

Because of the seriousness of Ball’s injury, the Bulls have to start thinking about a new direction at point guard. Coby White is a Band-Aid.

Karnisovas appears determined to keep at least two of his “Big Three,’’ and Vucevic likely brings the least amount back in a deal.

That means Lillard would get an All-Star in LaVine or DeRozan as a running mate, and the Bulls would get their point guard of the future and then an Anfernee Simons-type player to run with the remaining core.

Magic Kingdom

Karnisovas visited Disney World once as VP of the Bulls and came back with Vucevic, mouse ears and a lot fewer draft picks. Yes, it’s time for another trip.

Here’s the big swing:

The Bulls send DeRozan and Patrick Williams to the Magic for Gary Harris, Jonathan Isaac, Jalen Suggs and their original pick this year, the No. 11 overall selection.

How does this help either team?

First, the Magic have all kinds of young talent. What they don’t have is an adult in the room. Ask the Grizzlies what it’s like to be young and talented but unsupervised. There is no better vet for younger players than DeRozan. He doesn’t just act like he cares about them improving; he shows it. It also gives the Magic an available forward in Williams who can spread the floor.

The Bulls get back an untapped defensive-minded point guard in Suggs, who has been misused in Orlando. LaVine has some obvious flaws, and Suggs covers them up.

Harris is a sneaky-good three-point shooter and defender, while Isaac is a major gamble because of his injury history. But if the knee problems are finally behind the onetime Florida State standout, the Bulls suddenly have a real rim protector to help Vucevic.

The Bulls then take that pick and look to select a Gradey Dick or Taylor Hendricks to add to the frontcourt.

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