Even though it seems like a rebuild is unlikely, I thought it might be a good exercise to see what this roster could look like if the Bulls were to trade LaVine, DeRozan, and Caruso. Those are the 3 pieces the Bulls have that could potentially net a decent return of young players and/or picks. The Bulls from there could focus on bringing back free agents Coby White and Ayo Dosumnu, both young enough to stay with the current core. Vučević is a free agent as well. I wouldn’t be opposed to bringing him back even as the team moves to a rebuild. They would need someone to play center and Vučević’s passing and shooting would make it easier for the young guys on offense.
Part of the reason why the Bulls probably won’t move toward a rebuild is that it seems like LaVine and DeRozan might not have a ton of value on the open trade market. This is something I tried to keep in mind while constructing these trades. I tried to lean more towards adding proven young talent and not having teams mortgage their draft future for the Bulls’ core. Now let’s get into some trades.
Trade #1: Blazers try to convince Dame to stay by adding an All-Star
It’s no secret that Dame Lillard has been applying some pressure on the Blazers’ front office to add some win-now talent. The Blazers elected to keep the 3rd pick in the draft and selected Scoot Henderson. This gives them a log jam at guard and limits the assets they have to improve the roster. To me, this makes DeRozan a clear target for them. Lillard hasn’t played with a forward that can score like DeRozan and his contract being expiring could allow the Blazers to quickly move to a rebuild around Henderson and Sharpe if needed.
The Bulls would get a hell of a shooter in Simons. The Bulls’ current young core are all good defensive players but lack offensive skills. Simons could step in right away as the go-to scorer for this young and rebuilding team.
The Bulls would also receive Nassir Little, a young forward that would be worth a look. He showed some potential before getting injured. The Bulls would be getting pretty guard so Little could provide the team with some more size. I think Little could play at either forward spot for the team and would fit nicely with Patrick Williams in the frontcourt.
As I mentioned above, I don’t see the Blazers’ adding any draft equity to the trade, so let’s look at a Caruso trade to add a future 1st.
Trade #2: Heat Culture adds a natural fit
We can fly through this one quickly. With Lillard being happy with the addition of DeRozan, the Heat shifted their focus to a different guard that could also make a potential loss of Gabe Vincent and/or Max Strus in free agency easier to swallow. Caruso, coming off a 1st Team All-Defense selection, would fit right into the Heat’s style of play and of course their well-pointed-out culture. In the event that Lillard would hit the trade market, I’m sure the Heat could quickly flip Caruso into an asset to continue their pursuit. The Bulls would add a 1st rounder that is far enough out to still hold some upside. Now let’s get to the big trade.
Trade #3: Zach LaVine joins Wemby in San Antonio
There’s been some speculation that the Spurs might try to build a competitive team around their new franchise cornerstone right away. They have the assets to add a player of LaVine’s quality without breaking the bank and keeping enough assets if another star were to become available quickly. LaVine would be a good get for the Spurs. He would help the Spurs compete for a play-in spot right away.
An intriguing aspect of trading LaVine to the Spurs is that the Bulls could get their 2025 1st back. They traded this pick to the Spurs when they acquired DeMar DeRozan. This would probably help the Bulls feel better about moving more toward a youth movement/rebuild. Blake Wesley is an intriguing prospect and McDermott (a former Bull) could be kept to help with floor spacing or flipped right away for another asset. In my mind, the prize of this trade would be LaVine’s Gold Medal-winning teammate Keldon Johnson.
Johnson would be an excellent fit with Patrick Williams in the frontcourt. Although he might not have All-Star potential, he could be a very nice piece on any team. He has good size and is a solid defensive player.
These trades as well as bringing back Ayo Dosumnu and Coby White would construct a solid young core for the Bulls. They wouldn’t be starting their rebuild at an OKC Thunder level, but it would be a good start. They would have to figure out the center spot, especially if Vučević doesn’t return, but this core of young guys below wouldn’t be a bad start, if something like this is available to the Bulls this offseason, they should seriously consider this route.
PG: Anfernee Simons/Ayo Dosumnu
SG: Coby White/Blake Wesley
SF: Keldon Johnson/Dalen Terry
PF: Patrick Williams/Nassir Little/Julian Phillips (2023 35th overall selection)