Bulls Urged to ‘Put Every Trade Chip on The Table’ for $216M Superstar

Chicago Bulls

Getty Chicago Bulls head coach Billy Donovan.

The Chicago Bulls need to go all-in this coming off-season with a blockbuster trade.

That is the decree of Bleacher Report’s Zach Buckley urging the team to target seven-time All-Star point guard Damian Lillard of the Portland Trail Blazers.

“If the Bulls want any chance to contend next season, they have to up their star power and fix their point guard position,” Buckley argued. “A megadeal for Damian Lillard would solve both problems.

“If any single trade gets Chicago into the championship race next season, it’d be putting every trade chip on the table and nabbing Lillard.”

Buckley is quick to point out that Lillard is not officially on the block and is unlikely to be made available unless he requests it. The latest indications from the six-time All-NBA selection and NBA 75th Anniversary Team member is that he wants his club to be aggressive in seeking out upgrades this summer.

But that was their goal this past offseason only to end up with the third-worst record in the Western Conference.

Damian Lillard Not on The Market…Yet

Now, there is a belief that general manager Joe Cronin will make their upcoming lottery pick available in a trade. They are limited in just how much they can do without taking away, however, due to ongoing future draft commitments to Chicago. Cronin said he has discussed the first-round pick the next time Portland makes the playoffs with the Bulls during every trading window since they acquired the pick over the 2020 offseason.

Cronin said the discussions have ranged from reconsidering the protections to player compensation to get the pick back outright. Whatever it is, it needs to produce the kind of results Lillard is seeking or things could snowball.

He has already amped up the pressure in the public forum.

“The Bulls would have loads of defensive questions with a nucleus featuring Lillard, [Zach] LaVine, [DeMar] DeRozan, and [Nikola] Vučević,” concedes Buckley before assuring “they could have the offensive firepower to overcome them.”

Chicago finished the season with the fifth-rated defense but the 24th-ranked offense.

Bulls Might Prefer a Trade The Other Way

Any deal for Lillard would have to include Patrick Williams, still the Bulls’ most enticing prospect even following a ho-hum third season after a summer of build-up. The Bulls have previously been reluctant to include him in trade talks but have also been rumored to be open to moving him in the right deal.

This still might not qualify and, if the Bulls are going to keep all three of the DeRozan, LaVine, and Vucevic things could get even more complicated.

Chicago could offer up a package of their 2027 and 2028 first-round picks as well as the Blazers’ pick along with Williams, fourth-year guard Coby White who came on this season outside of scoring, and the injured Lonzo Ball who might not even play again but is one of the few high-dollar salaries on the Bulls’ books that isn’t one of the current stars.

They would likely have to include Ayo Dosunmu and/or Dalen Terry.

They would be building around a foursome of players with suspect defense three of whom are in the latter stages of their careers while LaVine will turn 29 at the tail end of next season and is owed $48.9 million in the final year of his five-year, $215 million contract on a player option.

Lillard is owed more than $216 million over the next four years.

Perhaps the Bulls should ask for whatever assets Portland would look to build around if they traded Lillard – Anfernee Simons or Shaedon Sharpe are nice young pieces.

DeRozan and Lillard are friends and the Blazers’ face of the franchise was open to suggestions his team go after LaVine this past summer. But that could work either way just as this offseason could for the Bulls.

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