Bulls Insider Drops Latest Intel on Likelihood of a Big Three Trade

DeRozan LaVine Vucevic Bulls

Getty Chicago Bulls stars DeMar DeRozan, Zach LaVine and Nikola Vucevic on the court during a game against the New Orleans Pelicans.

There’s no debating the fact that when the Chicago Bulls were actually playing with a full deck — with Lonzo Ball directing the action — last season, the team bore the look of a dark horse contender in the Eastern Conference. Right now, though, that simply isn’t their reality.

Ball doesn’t appear to be any closer now to returning from his knee injury than he did a week, two weeks or two months ago. And even if his comeback was imminent, the landscape in the East has shifted so dramatically that the Bulls would probably still have a tough time competing with the upper-echelon squads.

With that being the case, one could make the argument that the Bulls should start selling off their top vets for assets to help them build a roster with a higher long-term ceiling. According to NBC Sports Chicago‘s KC Johnson, however, that doesn’t look to be on the table for the team’s decision-makers.

“The current impression of the rival executives” to whom Johnson has spoken is that the Bulls aren’t looking to deal any of their DeMar Derozan-Zach LaVine-Nikola Vucevic Big Three. However, there’s at least one caveat to consider with the latter baller.

Nikola Vucevic Could Be the Sole Exception in Bulls’ Apparent Unwillingness to Trade Stars

Bulls hold off Magic' 2nd half push, win 128-109 | NBC Sports ChicagoThe Magic pulled within single digits but the Bulls held strong, winning 128-109. On Bulls Postgame Live, Jason Goff, Kendall Gill and Will Purdue break down key moments of the game, talk about Mikola Vucevic's performance and hear from Billy Donovan. #NBCSportsChicago #Chicagobulls #Bulls #ZachLaVine #DeMarDeRozan #NikolaVucevic #BillyDonovan #AlexCaruso #CobyWhite #PatrickWilliams #AyoDosunmu #NBA #Magic #OrlandoMagic…2023-01-29T03:57:54Z

Per Johnson’s intel, the one player among that lot who the team eventually could — and maybe even should — consider moving is Nikola Vucveic, who’s set to hit unrestricted free agency this summer. The idea here is that the team would avoid watching him leave with nothing to show for it.

“The player to watch is Vucevic. While trading him would essentially admit a mistake given the price tag to acquire him, losing him for nothing in unrestricted free agency this offseason would be worse,” Johnson wrote.

“It’s management’s job to balance short- and long-term planning, and certainly having a read on Vucevic’s offseason intentions has to be a checked box at this point.”

In the event that the Bulls do decide to test the market on Vucevic, the veteran pivot has definitely made himself more attractive to prospective suitors recently. Since December 7 — a period of 26 games — Vucevic has averaged 19.0 points, 11.2 rebounds and 3.8 assists per contest with 55-38-81 shooting splits.

On the other hand, the Bulls have been 7.1 points per 100 possessions worse from a net rating standpoint when he has been on the court. So, it may be in Chicago’s best interest to jettison him, even if he was a costly addition.

Former Bulls Sharpshooter Finds New Home

When the Bulls signed journeyman guard Matt Thomas to deal in September of 2021, the hope was that he would be able to provide some much-needed perimeter shooting off the bench. For the most part, he was successful in that endeavor, too, connecting on better than 38% of his triples, of which he made 2.7 per 36 minutes.

Nevertheless, his limitations in just about every other area precluded him from playing regular minutes in Chicago, and the squad ultimately decided to let him go after the 2021-22 NBA season. Flash forward to now and the 28-year-old is close to landing in a new situation.

As reported SDNA’s George Zakkas on Saturday, Greek powerhouse Panathinaikos has “made an official offer” to Thomas.

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