The revamped Chicago Bulls flashed potential to be a force in the Eastern Conference with a 131-95 drubbing of the Cleveland Cavaliers in Tuesday’s preseason opener.
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Adding coveted talent like Nikola Vucevic, DeMar DeRozan, Lonzo Ball and Alex Caruso to the Bulls this calendar year, Chicago has quickly become a free agent destination under the new regime of ownership.
If Tuesday’s offensive exhibition is more than a mirage, the Bulls could be in the realm of adding even more talent as the team makes a push to make its first playoff appearance in five years more than a first-round exit.
Bleacher Report linked a top-five trade target to Chicago a day after the NBA world saw how lethal the Bulls could be.
Goran Dragic to Chicago
Bleacher Report’s Zach Buckley assessed his predictions for the top-five trade targets in the NBA currently and asserted that Goran Dragic could see an avenue to join the Bulls.
Dragic spent the past seven years with the Miami Heat and helped them reach the NBA Finals in 2020. He was recently traded to the Toronto Raptors, a move that he even said felt temporary, per Sports Illustrated.
Buckley’s mock trade would send Coby White and Derrick Jones Jr., who was acquired in the Lauri Markannen trade to the Cleveland Cavaliers, to the Raptors in exchange for Dragic and a future second-round pick.
The Bulls are built to win with offense, as defensive leaks are inevitable with Zach LaVine, DeMar DeRozan and Nikola Vucevic all penciled into the opening group. That’s doable—it’s not like the Brooklyn Nets are championship favorites for their defensive potential—but the attack needs to be elite.
Chicago’s could be just that, but there’s arguably a better chance it lands closer to really good territory. If that matches the Bulls’ self-assessment, then the front office might seek more consistent firepower than Coby White has offered over a pair of up-and-down seasons to start his career.
Goran Dragic, a nightly supplier of 16.8 points on 46.9/37.0/77.8 shooting over the past eight seasons, could be the answer. Many—him included—felt his offseason move north of the border was merely a temporary relocation, as the Kyle Lowry-less Raptors might not be competitive quickly enough for the 35-year-old Dragic (notably, on an expiring contract) to help.
In Chicago, though, Dragic would find himself back in the Eastern Conference chase with a club built to maximize his impact. The Bulls’ top offensive weapons work on or off the ball, just like the Dragon does, and they could easily slide point guards Lonzo Ball and Alex Caruso over to the off-guard slot when they share the floor with Dragic.
The Raptors, meanwhile, aren’t under the same time crunch as the Bulls, who need to win big enough this season to get LaVine’s signature on a long-term contract. In other words, Toronto should have the patience to see what it could extract from the development of White and Derrick Jones Jr., who are just 21 and 24 years old, respectively.
The Dallas Mavericks were one of the team that attempted to trade for Dragic while he was still in Miami and are likely still contenders to secure the 35-year-old guard.
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White’s Future in Chicago
Drafted seventh overall in 2019, White is the last player of the Gar Forman era that Arturas Karnisovas and Marc Eversley have made quick work of cleaning out in the past year.
White was the team’s starting point guard to start the 2020-21 season but was relegated to a bench role late in the year after his defensive miscues outweighed his offensive contributions. White bounced back and handled the adversity well, averaging 15.1 points per game last season.
White’s struggles defensively were exacerbated by the team surrounding him. He showed he has potential as a long-term developmental prospect.
However, suppose the Bulls are in a position to make a run in the postseason in a pivotal year to prove to Zach LaVine that the franchise is serious about winning. In that case, Chicago may forgo their development of White and ship him elsewhere for a veteran talent like Dragic.