Analyst Argues Why Bulls Should Not Tank

Zach LaVine, Nikola Vucevic, DeMar DeRozan

Getty (From left) Zach LaVine, Nikola Vucevic and DeMar DeRozan of the Chicago Bulls.

The Chicago Bulls are in a tough spot. At 11-15, with the 11th seed in the Eastern Conference standings, they can either ride it out with their current roster or they can start over. If they go with the latter option and manage to get a top-four pick in next year’s draft, they won’t have to surrender it to the Orlando Magic

Chris Vernon of The Ringer explained on “The Mismatch” why he didn’t believe tanking is the right way to go for the Bulls.

“There’s going to be how many teams worse than them? Even if you decide [to tank],” Vernon asked on the podcast’s December 10 episode. “I just don’t think you can win that race, and then what?”

Vernon said that from what he’s seen, teams typically do better when they improve on the good standing they have rather than starting over.

“I’m always the ‘it’s easier to build from the middle’ [guy]. Because I paid attention to the way this has gone with the league and how these teams have been able to get better and have attained these guys than it is from trading it for flotsam,” Vernon said.

If the Bulls traded away their best players with the intention of trying to keep their top-four protected 2023 first-round pick away from the Orlando Magic, the highest lottery odds they’ll have to get the No. 1 pick — if they have among the worst three records in the league — is 14%.

Bulls Not Interested in Russell Westbrook

If the Bulls intend to start over, one possible option at their behest is trading with the Los Angeles Lakers. The Lakers could potentially offer Russell Westbrook for DeMar DeRozan and Nikola Vucevic. Zach Lowe of ESPN asserted on the December 2 episode of “The Lowe Post” podcast that the Lakers and Bulls have “100%” held talks regarding Westbrook, DeRozan and Vucevic in a potential trade.

However, it appears perhaps the Bulls aren’t interested in taking on the $47.1 million Westbrook, 34, is slated to make this season.

“While the Lakers might be looking to make a big trade and have their eyes on the Bulls’ roster, the feeling isn’t mutual,” Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times reported on December 9. “Executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas has no interest in acquiring Russell Westbrook and his expiring contract, even if it means adding draft picks.”

Zach LaVine Not Available Via Trade

In describing the Bulls’ options, Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report wrote in a December 10 story that the Bulls have not made Zach LaVine available on the trade market.

“Chicago could also look to move LaVine (after Jan. 15), who re-signed on a five-year, $215.2 million contract this summer. His name hasn’t buzzed yet on the rumor mill, but Chicago could find willing suitors if it made the two-time All-Star available,” Pincus said.

Pincus wrote that teams are keeping a close eye on the Bulls because they believe it’s time for the Bulls to start over.

“Everyone is watching Chicago very closely,” an NBA source told Pincus. “They’re so poorly constructed, they need to blow it up.”

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