In recent weeks, the Bulls have come up as a team that increasingly looks like a buyer at the NBA trade deadline, in a year in which buyers and sellers are hard to determine. But with its excellent start followed by a significant road bump—three losses in four games against the Mavericks, Nets and Warriors—Chicago could be scrambling to make a move and maintain its status as a contender in the Eastern Conference.
The Bulls appear to have avoided a significant injury when forward Derrick Jones Jr. was found to have a hyperextended knee, rather than something more serious, and now avoided a devastating injury when the MRI on Zach LaVine knee showed only a knee problem that will get a re-evaluation next week.
Still, with the return of forward Patrick Williams uncertain, Chicago will be in the market for depth and upgrades. Keep an eye on two players who could be on the floor against the Bulls on Saturday night.
“I think that there will be a good amount of veterans available,” Heavy.com veteran insider Steve Bulpett, who covered the NBA and Celtics for 35 years, said. “I know the Celtics certainly will make—and I don’t know that these guys would necessarily help Chicago, they may—Dennis Schroder, Josh Richardson, these guys should be available. Others could be around as well as teams not only look to solidify what they want to do for the rest of this season but work to get themselves into a more advantageous cap situation vis a vis the tax.”
Celtics Could Be Looking to Unload a Pair
Given the versatility on Chicago’s roster, the team could welcome just about any player and find a spot in the rotation if needed. Schroder would only really be a need if the team unloads backup guard Coby White for veteran help, which is a possibility.
Schroder is on a very team-friendly contract, making just $5.9 million for one season, a deal he had to accept after he was unable to find a bigger contract on the market this summer. The Celtics could be willing to unload Schroder in a deal that saves them money—Boston is a little more than $5 million over the luxury tax line and would like to get below it.
Richardson, though, might be the better fit, as he is an excellent wing defender who can play shooting guard and serve as a point guard in a pinch. After five seasons as a starter, Richardson has settled into a bench role with Boston and has done well with it, averaging 10.3 points in 25.9 minutes, making 45.0% of his shots and 4.6% of his 3-point tries.
Richardson makes $11.6 million this season and is slated to make $12.4 million next year.
Bulls Figure to Get Healthy
Of course, the Bulls could simply stand pat and wait to get healthy. Even with the embarrassing loss the team took against the Warriors on Friday, by 42 points, the team can still hold tight and wait to get healthy.
More good news figures to come when Alex Caruso makes his return to the lineup next week. Caruso has been out since December 20 with a foot injury, followed by his entry into the league’s health and safety protocols.
And there is Williams, whom team president Arturas Karnisovas did not rule out for a return this season. Still, there is not much playoff experience on this roster.
“Some of those young guys, what is going to happen when they get into pressure situations?” Bulpett said. “I could very easily see the Bulls making a move for a veteran guy who could come in and not only give the minutes you need on the floor but be a stabilizing effect, I’d keep an eye on that, I think.”