Bulls a Fit For Blockbuster Trade to Land Mavs’ Star?

Kristaps Porzingis

Getty Wendell Carter Jr is fouled by Kristaps Porzingis in a January 17 game against the Dallas Mavericks.

As the Chicago Bulls continue trending upward, now having won four of their last five and reentered the Eastern Conference playoff race, should fans anticipate a trade by this season’s deadline?

They’re 14-16 as of Tuesday morning, the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference, but still far from being considered a contender or legitimate postseason threat. Would a trade for Kristaps Porzingis make sense?

Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer reported late on Monday night that the Dallas Mavericks were gauging the Latvian big’s trade value after two and half seasons with the team that saw him ridden with injuries:

In fact, Dallas has quietly gauged the trade market for Porzingis, according to league sources, as the Mavericks have begun reevaluating whether the 25-year old center can truly support Doncic as the second option on a contender.

SNY’s Ian Begley followed that up on Tuesday morning with a report that the Mavericks had indeed reached out to the Golden State Warriors to determine if they would have any interest in a trade.

Porzingis has been active for just 74 out of 136 games played by Dallas since they traded for him at the end of January in 2019. But as discouraging as that number is, and that’s only amplified when you factor in his paycheck, there’s no denying what the 25-year old can do on the hardwood when he’s healthy and available.

Would he be a good fit for the Bulls? He’s averaging 20.5 points, 8.2 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks per game over the 17 games he’s been available this year. But it seems worth mentioning that the Mavericks are 8-9 in those games, as opposed to 6-6 in the 12 games he’s missed.

A Porzingis Trade Would Signal the End of the Wendell Carter Jr Era

One way or another, if the Bulls pulled the trigger on a deal with the Dallas Mavericks, it would likely indicate the end of Wendell Carter Jr‘s time with the club. He was the seventh overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, and despite some injury issues of his own, has shown a lot of promise as a rim protector and offensive big.

He’s averaging 13.1 points, 7.7 rebounds, and 2.2 assists in 19 games for Chicago this season.

If the Mavericks are giving up on Porzingis, who’s just 25 years old mind you, they’d no doubt want both a young talent and/or a center replacement for the short term if not the future. Carter fits both the criteria and will be on his rookie contract through the 2021-2022 season behind a $6.9 million team option.

But if Carter was to remain with the Bulls in the aftermath of a trade for Porzingis, even then, it’s hard to imagine he wouldn’t see a significant drop off in his minutes within the rotation. The 21-year old would go from starter to backup, with the only optimism to be found located in Porzingis’s inability to stay available and on the floor.

How Much is Too Much for a Star with an Injury History?

The largest factor in whatever deal Chicago makes next will be the price. How much of what they took years to build would they have to give up for just a chance at a return to relevancy?

A trade for Kristaps Porzingis could command a weighty return, and two-fold.

Not only would it likely take one of Coby White, Patrick Williams, Lauri Markkanen, or Wendell Carter Jr to get a deal done, but on top of that; the Bulls would be volunteering to pay the remaining $95-million he’s owed over the next three years.

There’s an upside to a deal for Porzingis, yes, but the downside could be earth-shattering for a team so close to the end of the tunnel, like the Chicago Bulls.

One could also safely assume that the Mavericks would demand some form of draft compensation. Mark Cuban and company have never been the type to sell low on any of their in-house talents. Remember, they got Porzingis for what was considered a steal at the time: Dennis Smith Jr, DeAndre Jordan, and two first-round picks.

That’s how you maximize talent in a transactional sense.

Porzingis would make for a nice fit next to Zach LaVine though, and if healthy, could make the Chicago Bulls the home of not one (well, TBD), but two All-Star talents. No matter the team, that’s an asset in itself. The NBA’s been commandeered into an era of player movement and empowerment. And nothing is more appealing to relocating stars than a willing team with talented personnel.

But is it worth the risk? If Chicago only had to deal one of a young talent/draft pick on top of Otto Porter Jr’s expiring salary, that would make this kind of dice roll more appealing. Still, it’s unclear just how high the Dallas Mavericks value their secondary star. That much is up to negotiation.

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