The Chicago Bulls‘ frontcourt has become something of a Bermuda Triangle for major injuries. First, it was former No. 4 overall pick Patrick Williams who went down with what could be a season-ending wrist injury. Next, Javonte Green suffered a groin strain that could keep him out for a month-plus.
Now, Derrick Jones Jr. has joined the fray. Just 36 seconds into the Bulls’ big Wednesday bout with the Brooklyn Nets, the 24-year-old hyperextended his knee. Shortly thereafter, it was revealed that he incurred “significant” bone bruising and would also miss two to four weeks of action.
While there are questions to be asked about what the team will do while waiting for guys to start cycling back in, the bigger question might be how the latest injury affects the team’s strategy for the NBA trade deadline.
On Thursday, a Bulls insider weighed in with his perspective on the situation.
Johnson: Jones Could Still Factor Into Potential Moves
Before he got injured, there was a thought that Jones could be an important piece for potential deals seeking to bring another high-level contributor to Chicago. The reason: his expiring contract, which will pay out $9.7 million this season.
According to NBC Sports Chicago’s KC Johnson, that continues to be the case in spite of recent events:
The injury doesn’t really impact Jones Jr.’s trade value. If he’s included in a deal, it’s most likely for his expiring salary, not his on-court impact. And Jones Jr. will return at some point this season — even in plenty of time for playoff contributions should he remain with the Bulls.
Although there’s light at the end of the tunnel for Jones and Green, some have wondered whether the multitude of injuries might prompt the team to make a stronger push for Detroit Pistons star Jerami Grant. Per Johnson, making that particular move would cost the Bulls a lot more than Jones:
The Bulls are one of several teams linked to Jerami Grant. A package of Williams, Jones Jr. and the protected first-round pick from Portland is the likely asking price for Grant.
White off the Trade Table?
On a recent episode of The HoopsHype Podcast, league insider Michael Scotto indicated that Bulls guard and former lottery pick Coby White could be available “for the right price.” Given his production and incredible potential, that price would seemingly have to include a major difference-maker.
For his part, though, Johnson’s read on the situation is that the 21-year-old probably isn’t going anywhere:
Multiple league sources said the current leaguewide impression is that [Bulls president Arturas] Karnisovas values and intends to keep Coby White, whom coach Billy Donovan recently called “a winning player.”
White, who lost his starting PG spot when the team signed Lonzo Ball, is averaging 11.7 points, 2.5 rebounds and 2.3 assists for the Bulls while posting career-best shooting marks of 46.1% from the field and 38.8% from deep.