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Bulls make unrealistic assessment of their roster at trade deadline

There should be no untouchables. Not on a 12-victory team.

But these are the Bulls, who are led by a front office that far too often has fallen in love with its own roster, sometimes to an unrealistic degree.

The Sun-Times confirmed a report that, with the trade deadline approaching Thursday, the Bulls have made it clear that Lauri Markkanen and Wendell Carter Jr. are as close to untouchable as it comes. A blockbuster package from an opposing front office obviously could change that, but a source said talks like that haven’t progressed enough to gain traction.

That means general manager Gar Forman and vice president of basketball operations John Paxson have identified two keepers in the second year of the rebuild. The rest of the roster is up for debate with 29 games left.

Here’s how the key members of the roster should be viewed:

Untouchables

None.

Keepers

Markkanen: His talent hasn’t been fully tapped. The 7-footer continues to get more comfortable with his teammates and more comfortable with being an assertive offensive force.

He is the one player on the roster who presents a mismatch for opposing coaches and seemingly is slowed only when his teammates ignore him in offensive sets.

Can he be traded? Absolutely — if it involves a proven superstar to build around.

Building blocks

Carter: The 19-year-old rookie showed a physicality and a willingness to play defense not seen by many in his draft class. He displayed surprising footwork when switched onto a guard and enough offense to make him a perfect fit alongside Markkanen.

His season-ending thumb surgery was a blow, but the Bulls would have to get a superstar in return for a trade involving Carter.

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Works for now

Zach LaVine: On this roster, LaVine is the best offensive player the Bulls have. On a playoff team, however, he’s a third or fourth option. He’s a streaky scorer and still has problems staying focused defensively, especially off the ball.

He’s a key block for this rebuild now, but should the Bulls receive an All-Star-caliber offer for him, they must listen.

Bobby Portis: A streaky scorer who brings energy and does whatever is asked of him isn’t easy to find in the NBA, and that’s why Portis’ injury problems this season have crippled the Bulls’ bench.

Portis isn’t a starter on a playoff team, but he would be a welcome player on any NBA bench because of his intangibles. He’ll be a restricted free agent after the season, and it will be interesting to see what price the market puts on him.

Chandler Hutchison: The rookie has shown flashes as a solid wing defender and even displayed a bit of offense. The ceiling is still cloudy on him because of his inexperience, but it’s worth watching his development.

Kris Dunn: The growing opinion about Dunn is that he can play 10 more years as a defensive stopper and irritant — off the bench. Look for the Bulls to address the point-guard spot in the draft or in free agency this summer.

Denzel Valentine: Injuries have clouded what he is, and the 2019-20 season will be sink-or-swim.

Trade ’em or prepare the buyout

Jabari Parker: The Bulls know this was a $20 million mistake, and they plan to trade Parker or decline their option on him this summer. It’s still amazing, however, that the Bulls ignored the many flaws in his game when they decided to sign him.

Robin Lopez: The veteran center has been a pro through this entire circus and deserves better than how he has been treated. The Bulls have needed him way more than he has needed them, and they should reward him by trading him or buying him out so he can go to a contender.