The Bulls have handled the absence of Patrick Williams. They’ve dealt with consistent NBA blows because of COVID-19. They’ve also dealt with the absence, and now re-absence thanks to Grayson Allen, of guard Alex Caruso.
They’ve even weathered missing out on starting point guard Lonzo Ball.
But the injury to Derrick Jones Jr. , who hurt his right index finger in an injury that will take an estimated six-to-eight weeks to heal, hits in a different kind of way. That’s because, heading into the February 10 NBA trade deadline, Jones Jr. figured to be one of the top chips the Bulls had to play when looking to fill their need for a power forward and more general depth up front.
That’s because Jones, despite averaging just 6.3 points and 3.4 rebounds in 17.2 minutes per game, is among the best perimeter defenders in the league, a player who could add value to opposing teams and bring back value in a trade for one of the may contending teams, certainly in the Western Conference, who need his services.
With a contract worth just $9.7 million and running up after this season, Jones also made good financial sense for interested contenders. But faced with the possibility that he will be out for two full months, leading to the playoffs and then on to free-agency, the market has been severely depressed on Jones.
Jones Had Value as Defensive Chip
Jones does have some value simply on his own. Considering the size of his contract, he could bring back another solid rotation player or a midlevel guy in a trade. At least, he could bring back the young and tantalizing—but often baffling—Kings forward Marvin Bagley.
He could also be packaged, perhaps with guard Coby White (nearly $6 million), in a deal for a more established player. The Bulls, it turns out, have some interesting ways to go on that.
“A lot of teams were asking about him in a lot of different contexts,” one NBA exec told Heavy.com. “Not to say they were going to trade him but he is key to so much of what they could do at the deadline. If it was a small deal, he would probably be involved as a key piece. A big deal? You need his contract and his talent to sell to your owner. This stings for them. It really does cripple what they hoped to do.”
Limited Options for Bulls at NBA Trade Deadline
The Bulls do have a limited set of options ahead of them as the NBA trade deadline approaches. The injury to Jones Jr, as well as those for Ball, Caruso and Patrick Williams, make other teams look at Chicago as a team that can be plundered at the league’s deadline.
The Bulls were, of course, off to a start of 26-10, a stretch that earned them a spot about the league’s true contenders, before losing seven of their last 10.
They were intent on adding to their young core and building going forward. But just because those players are now hurt, don’t expect big-time names to materialize as targets.
There will be talks. There always are. But do not hold your breath on an immediate update. The deadline, after all, is February 10.