After an up-and-down start to the season, the Chicago Bulls have seemingly figured some things out in their Lonzo Ball-less reality. Since the turn of the calendar from 2022 to 2023, the club ranks eighth in the NBA on offense (with an O-rating of 116.7) and defense (by allowing 112.8 points/100 possessions).
Given the upward swing, the case for continuing to build around the current core — as opposed to transitioning into some kind of rebuild — is growing.
For his part, FanNation‘s Brett Siegel believes the shift is in effect in Chicago’s front office. He writes: “It no longer seems like the Bulls are having thoughts of going through a rebuild and, instead, they could wind up looking to buy talent at the trade deadline.”
If Arturas Karnisovas and Marc Eversley do decide to lean into the current trend and push for win-now pieces, Siegel believes that veteran guard Alex Caruso could be dangled to bring in something substantial as the playoff race heats up.
Alex Caruso Floated as Trade Piece in the Event That the Bulls Go ‘Big Game Hunting’
While his name will never be on the proverbial marquee, Caruso continues to be a player who affects winning in an incredible way. As noted by NBC Sports Chicago‘s KC Johnson, there are 15 Bulls lineup combinations that have logged 300 or more minutes together this season, and the five that have positive net ratings all include Caruso.
Meanwhile, Caruso’s net swing of 8.2 is the second-best mark on the team and his 5.7 deflections per 36 minutes actually lead the Association. Nevertheless, Siegel believes that the Bulls could part with the baller if they decide to pursue significant talent upgrades.
“If they want to go ‘big game hunting,’ Alex Caruso is certainly a player that could net them high value in return,” Siegel wrote. “There is a demand for players like Caruso on the trade market right now, especially since he is regarded as one of the better perimeter defending guards in this league.”
Of course, trades netting marquee-type players usually include some level of draft compensation, an area where Chicago is somewhat lacking thanks to the Nikola Vucevic trade two years ago. So, the team’s ceiling on potential deals may be lower than is being purported here.
Elsewhere on the roster, Coby White, Patrick Williams, Derrick Jones Jr. and Andre Drummond were also namechecked as players who could be shopped in the Bulls’ attempt to “add value to their roster.”
B/R Takes the Opposite Stance on Bulls’ Trade Deadline Approach
Although Siegel is talking about the Bulls being buyers as the stretch run approaches, Bleacher Report‘s Dan Favale sees the Bulls going in the opposite direction, writing on Monday:
After winning nine of their last 15 games, the Chicago Bulls no longer feel like a five-alarm inferno. They will invariably use this as an excuse to buy or stand pat while lamenting what could have been if Lonzo Ball were healthy.
And that’s a mistake.
Chicago is painfully mediocre. A healthy Lonzo alone isn’t changing that. If the Bulls care about aiming higher than the middle, they would proactively strip this roster down and start anew.