Chicago Bulls Trade Deadline Preview: Trade Rumors, Ideas, and Predictions

With just over a week before the trade deadline, the Chicago Bulls are fighting for positioning in the play-in tournament. Even with the ongoing Lonzo Ball and Zach LaVine injuries, this has to be considered a disappointment. Most teams in the Bulls’ situation would look to sell their top players and move on to the next era of their franchise. The problem is the biggest benefit a team would get in the short-term for that decision is improving their own draft selection and the Bulls’ pick is owed to the Orlando Magic (top 4 protected).

At best the Bulls are looking at about a 37% chance of keeping the pick if they commit to blowing it up at the trade deadline. The other element is that when it comes to trading All-Star caliber players such as Zach LaVine and DeMar DeRozan, the offseason is normally an easier place for those kinds of trades to happen given the extra roster flexibility. The Bulls also control their own destiny in terms of making the playoffs as of now, if the team takes care of business against bad teams (something that has been an unfortunate struggle), they will be in the playoffs. Despite those reasons, there are many writers and podcasters in the media that think it would be “inexplicable” for the Bulls not to blow it up at the deadline.

I think it goes without saying that I disagree with that stance. It would actually be very explicable if the team waited until the offseason to trade their guys where the returns are normally greater (look at the Murray, Mitchell, and Gobert trades last offseason) and the team is unlikely to reek the main benefit of doing this which is a high draft selection with their own pick. Now, I’m not saying the Bulls should automatically refuse any and all trade offers. If a team is willing to make a legit offer for anyone on the roster, the team should seriously consider it and I think if a team is willing to overpay, the Bulls should probably pull the trigger.

I think the last few seasons show that you need to overpay to bring in an All-Star via trade. If a team is willing to do that, the Bulls should take the offer. I stand by that the Bulls shouldn’t just take the best offer for each guy if they aren’t that great just to move on. If there aren’t great offers, just take it into the off-season. Outside of Zach LaVine and DeMar DeRozan, there are a few other players getting mentioned in trade rumors, those guys are Alex Caruso, Coby White, Nikola Vučević, and Andre Drummond. Let’s go through each of those guys in more detail.

Zach LaVine

I’m writing this at an interesting time. Zach Lowe made a prediction on his latest Lowe Post podcast episode that LaVine could be the sneaky guy that surprisingly either gets moved or almost moved. It has also been brought up that the Dallas Mavericks could be interested in LaVine as the solution to the problem they have of not having a fellow star with Luka.

I’m going to throw out a potential trade with each player so naturally, I’ll work with this report for LaVine. I’ll also give a prediction for each player on whether or not each player will get traded.

Fake trade idea:

This is a trade I’d understand from the Bulls’ point of view. Hardy looks like a solid young player that is worth a look. Dorian Finney-Smith (who is reportedly available for a star) could be kept, he has an incredible contract, and he also could be flipped to a contender looking for a 3 and D wing for more assets.

Prediction: Zach LaVine does not get traded.

DeMar DeRozan

DeRozan is still playing at an All-NBA level and could be a huge get for anyone. I do think he is a tough fit with contenders and think he’d be more worth it for a team in the play-in range looking to make a jump. Why not put him with another All-NBA player trying to make another run?

Fake trade idea:

(note: the Blazers owe the Bulls a 1st that is a lottery-protected pick through 2028, as part of the trade, the Blazers will lift the protections on the pick, guaranteeing the pick for the Bulls in the 2023 draft).

Another deal where the Bulls get some much-needed draft capital. Anfernee Simons could also head the rebuild, he looks like a potential All-Star but he isn’t ready to be Lillard’s #2 yet.

Prediction: DeMar DeRozan does not get traded.

Alex Caruso

There are multiple teams after Caruso, a perfect target for any contender. Caruso is maybe the best point-of-attack defender in the league and is a very smart offensive player to contribute there even with his lack of shooting. With the lack of sellers, Caruso could start up a bidding war.

Fake trade idea:

The Nuggets’ main weakness is their defense and promising young guard Bones Hyland could be available. Caruso would be an awesome get for the Nuggets. He and Jokic would be a match made in heaven, The Bulls get Bones who has shown potential but isn’t ready to play for a contender yet.

Prediction: Alex Caruso is traded before the deadline.

Coby White

White has been in trade rumors for the majority of the last two years. The Bulls are in a weird spot with White, he is probably the best asset the Bulls have to try to make a slight improvement at the deadline. The problem is White is probably more valuable to the Bulls than other teams because the Bulls lack shooting and White is a solid shooter. The Grizzlies have had some interest in White.

Fake trade idea:

Tillman is a target I’ve had for the Bulls for a while. I feel like he’d really fit well as the center in the small ball lineups that Billy Donovan likes to throw out there. He is also young enough that it would be nice to keep him around even if the team shifts to a total rebuild.

Prediction: Coby White is traded at the deadline.

Nikola Vučević

Vooch is having a very underrated season for the Bulls. He is having the best shooting season of his career and his passing makes him an easy offensive fit almost anywhere. If the Bulls want to go all in on that 37% of keeping their pick, trading Vučević could help a lot there since the Bulls don’t have any depth behind him.

Fake trade idea:

This might seem confusing with the play of Claxton. I think Vučević would fall in line as the backup for the remainder of the season. He would provide some needed beef and rebounding down low and his shooting could make it easier to play Ben Simmons in certain lineups. It also helps get the Nets off of Harris for next season, this could be seen largely as a salary dump. The Bulls lack shooting, so if they want to retool around LaVine and DeRozan, Harris could be a good risk for them to take.

Prediction: Nikola Vučević is not traded at the deadline.

Andre Drummond

Drummond has fallen out of the rotation and has been in some trade rumors.

The Bulls are close to the luxury tax so cutting some salary or trying to get a different look could be beneficial.

Fake trade idea:

I don’t think I need to address the Bulls’ shooting needs more than I have. Andre Drummond is probably the best backup Embiid has had so why not run it back?

Prediction: Andre Drummond is traded at the deadline.

Bonus fake trade:

The Bulls trade the Blazers’ lottery-protected pick for Bey. The Bulls would add some youth and take a nice gamble on a second-draft guy. The value of the Blazers’ pick will likely be decided by any move Portland makes at the deadline or in the offseason.

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Reilly is from Naperville, IL and is a big Bulls and Michigan State Spartans fan. He enjoys spending time with loved ones, watching movies, and coaching Water Polo when he isn’t watching basketball or deep diving Basketball-Reference and Follow him on Twitter at @McDReilly97!