Fans were told for weeks that the Chicago Bulls were the team to watch come the trade deadline, and now there’s a two-time All-Star en route to the Windy City.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported Thursday morning that a deal is in place to send Wendell Carter Jr., Otto Porter Jr., and two future first-round picks to the Orlando Magic for Nikola Vucevic and Al-Farouq Aminu.
Shams Charania of The Athletic followed that up with a confirmation on the first-round picks:
Wendell Carter Jr. has disappointed in year three, and was most recently demoted to the second unit in favor of veteran forward Thaddeus Young.
Porter Jr. has long been rumored as a buyout candidate in Chicago, and that could still hold, now with Orlando.
Vucevic is averaging 24.5 points, 11.8 rebounds, 3.8 assists, and a steal per game.
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Chicago is Focused on Playoffs
After dropping back-to-back games against Cleveland and Utah, making for four losses in their last five games, it was clear the Chicago Bulls weren’t trending toward a playoff berth.
As of their latest loss, they had dropped to five games under .500, and the 10th seed in the Eastern Conference.
This move flips Chicago’s trajectory right side up, and makes them a legitimate postseason threat. All season long both the front office and Bulls players have been vocal about a desire to make the playoffs.
With Vucevic in tow, and Zach LaVine playing like an All-Star, it’s looking more and more likely.
The Bulls Aren’t Done
Aside from the fact that the Chicago Bulls just landed a top-five big in the entire league, the second-largest piece of reporting here is that they’re still in the running for Lonzo Ball.
Discussions had been ongoing with the New Orleans Pelicans about a deal for the 23-year old point guard, but amidst a number of offers, no ground had been made between the two teams.
Wojnarowski made sure to note that acquiring Vucevic doesn’t mean the Bulls are pulling out of the Ball sweepstakes. The likelihood is that they may turn more aggressive in their push for a point guard now.
NBC Sports’ K.C. Johnson reported Thursday morning that the Pelicans were looking for more in a deal for Ball than just a straight-up swap involving Chicago forward Lauri Markkanen:
After the deal for Vucevic, it’s unclear if Chicago is willing to put that many chips in the middle, but it’s something that needs to be considered with their cap space this offseason diminishing.
Johnson reports the Bulls are exploring other avenues for a Markkanen deal, with hours to go until the deadline.
And NBA Insider Brian Windhorst mentioned Gary Trent Jr. as a potential target on ESPN:
The Trail Blazers sixth man is averaging 15 points on 39 percent shooting from deep.
Just under three hours to go until the deadline.