While the focus of Bulls trade rumors in recent weeks has been on Pelicans point guard Lonzo Ball, with the team having talked about the former No. 2 pick this season, another young guard who could be on the block is perhaps an even better fit for Chicago.
That would be Portland guard Anfernee Simons, who has the advantage of being just 21 years old yet already in his third season. The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported that several “rival teams are continuing to monitor the growth” of Simons as the trade deadline looms.
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Simons has had some flashes of brilliance this year, averaging 9.1 points and shooting 42.5% from the 3-point line. He takes 5.3 of his 7.5 shots from the arc and his sterling shooting mark has scouts and executives around the league salivating over the thought of inserting him in a bigger role.
With shooting guard C.J. McCollum injured, Simons has scored in double figures for seven straight games, making 47.5% of his shots and 45.8% of his 3s in that span. Physically, he has been stellar. Now, he just needs to make progress between the ears.
“Everything is basically mental at this point,” Simons recently told reporters. “I’m just trying to grasp everything that I can at this point. … Take the shots that are there for me and be aggressive.”
Could Simons Be More Attractive Than Lonzo Ball?
While the attraction to Ball makes some sense for the Bulls, who have offensive weapons but need more organization in running the team, Simons could be a more intriguing option. He is 6-foot-3 and can play either guard position, offering the Bulls an interesting combo of Coby White’s speedy crash-the-basket approach and Simons’ perimeter game.
Neither is a pure point guard, but between Simons and White, there is enough ballhandling and passing to handle the point spot.
Ball is 23 and while he has been a good shooter from the 3-point line in his last two seasons (37.5% from the arc), shooting is not his strength. Simons is not only a reliable shooter but still has room to grow in his game.
Lauri Markkanen for Anfernee Simons?
Even with the report from The Athletic, it is no certainty that the Blazers would be willing to part with Simons. Logically, though, it makes sense. The team is heavily invested in McCollum (signed for $100 million over three seasons after this one) and star point guard Damian Lillard ($195 million over four years), leaving little opportunity for Simons.
The Blazers also have 22-year-old shooting guard Gary Trent Jr. on hand. Portland will have to make decisions on those two, with Trent heading into free agency and Simons eligible for an extension this offseason.
With Portland in need of frontcourt help, the Blazers could be tempted into a deal with Simons going to Chicago and forward Lauri Markkanen sent to Portland in return. The Bulls would need to take on an additional player—Enes Kanter, possibly—to make the money work on such a deal.
Perhaps the Bulls do wind up with a Ball trade. But Simons would be the higher upside deal.
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