After the Chicago Bulls lost their third-straight Sunday night in a 110-101 defeat to Sacramento, they dropped to 9-14 on the season and have dropped seven of their last 10 games. Now sitting at the 12 spot in the Eastern Conference, the season looks all but lost.
The Bulls have been consistently mediocre this year, to put it lightly. It took until their 23rd game of the season for Zach LaVine to finally break out, but it was in a wasted effort as the rest of the team failed to step up to his aid.
Things aren’t going well in Chicago, and the fact of the matter is, the Bulls may be stuck with this type of play for a while. It was recently reported that the team extended head coach Billy Donovan before this season, and with the LaVine contract looking to far outweigh any positive dividends, the Bulls aren’t in great shape, at least for now.
With those thoughts in mind, it’s not too early to start thinking about the trade deadline coming up in February. And, it’s not crazy to think that the Bulls might actually decide to blow it up — at least, as much as they’re willing to.
The Chicago Bulls have reportedly deemed two of their players as untouchable assets, but that’s it.
The Heat and Bulls are in a similar predicament, laden with expensive rosters and high expectations and currently on course to miss the postseason. But with stars that league sources say they’ve deemed untouchable — Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo for the Heat, Zach LaVine and DeMar DeRozan for the Bulls — and role players with outsized contracts — Duncan Robinson and Tyler Herro for the Heat, Lonzo Ball and Nikola Vucevic for the Bulls — their flexibility to make a meaningful addition appears limited.
First of all, it would be hard to find another team willing to trade for that LaVine contract (5-year, $215 million deal with a 15 percent trade kicker). Based on how LaVine has played so far this year, outside of Sunday night, there’s not a team in the league that would be close to trading for his contract.
Secondly, and on a more positive note, it’s good to know that the Bulls are planning to keep DeMar DeRozan. Hopefully, that means they can lock him up on another deal for additional years to come.
The question now becomes, though, if the Bulls are keeping LaVine and DeRozan, who will they end up trading before this year’s deadline, if anyone? And, looking to the future, will the Bulls be able to field a title contender while paying those two? It’s going to take either some highly-favorable luck in an upcoming draft or for the Bulls to hit on a free agent to pair with their star duo.
If LaVine and DeRozan are untouchable, that means the Bulls very likely could try finding a home for the expiring contract of Nikola Vucevic — which would be a huge win to get rid of his deal for anything in return.
If anyone is going to be traded, with what we know now in mind, it’s going to be Vucevic. The Bulls have also tried trading Coby White in the past, but his play hadn’t lived up to any possible trade value. This season, he’s played pretty well, so there’s potential for a deal there as well.
Patrick Williams likely won’t be dealt unless the Bulls can get a first-round pick, which might not be entirely possible just yet — although there is hope the breakout fully continues and that he blossoms the rest of the year.
For now, Bulls fans will have to live with knowing that their two star wings are untouchable and that, hopefully, the team can figure out how to put together a contender in the coming season or two.