It’s been a while for the Windy City faithful, but 2021-22 is starting to feel remarkably like the good old days. Twice in a 24-hour period, DeMar DeRozan channeled his inner MJ and/or D-Rose and won games at the buzzer in ridiculous fashion. As a result, the Chicago Bulls now find themselves atop the East standings.
That said, we’ve yet to reach the season’s midpoint and the Bulls still have a lot of work left to do before fans can party like it’s 1996 or 2011. And while the team is set up nicely with a DeRozan-Zach Lavine-Lonzo Ball-Nikola Vucevic core, there’s a thought that more could be done to make Chicago a true contender.
For his part, NBA analyst and former Memphis Grizzlies executive John Hollinger sees the potential for some big-time moves ahead of the trade deadline. “The Bulls are already all-in, but they can go even all-inner, and you can argue they should,” he wrote, via The Athletic.
As Hollinger sees it, the Bulls could offer enticing trade packages for the likes of Jerami Grant and Harrison Barnes.
What It Would Take to Make a Big Move
Hollinger believes that the key cogs to any big Bulls deal are Derrick Jones Jr., who is on an expiring contract worth $9.7 million, and the future first-round pick they acquired along with him in the Lauri Markkanen sign-and-trade deal.
However, he’s also pitching the inclusion of Troy Brown, as well as one of the team’s best young prospects, to make a play for either Grant or Barnes:
Chicago also has another tantalizing possibility in its hip pocket: Patrick Williams. The fourth pick in the 2020 draft is out for the season with a wrist injury, but he could be the icing on a trade sundae for the right player. Would the Bulls consider dealing him in a Harrison Barnes package, for instance? What about for Detroit’s Jerami Grant? A Grant-for-Williams (and, um, Jones and Brown) swap has to at least get Detroit’s attention, right? That might be one of my favorite fake trades right now.
Dealing Williams in year two would be a bitter pill to swallow. As a rookie, he averaged 9.2 points and 4.6 rebounds per game while shooting 48.3% from the field and 39.1% from deep. He was one of just five first-year players in the league last season to average as many points and rebounds while posting an effective field goal percentage over 53.
He looked to be well on his way toward having another strong year before he got hurt, too. If the Bulls truly believe that a title is within their grasp, though, the time is nigh to make the best of their window.
Other Trade Targets
If the Bulls opt not to go for broke with a bigger-name player like Grant or Barnes, Hollinger believes there are still significant moves that could be made. As he sees it, San Antonio Spurs guard Derrick White could be a nice option.
After entering the league as an older prospect in the late first-round, the 6-foot-4 guard has become one of the game’s better combo players. In 35 games this season, he’s averaging 14.5 points, a career-high 5.6 assists and 3.5 rebounds per contest. However, his three-point percentage has dipped several points to just 29% this season.
White is under contract through the 2024-25 campaign.
Another name that was mentioned in Hollinger’s latest piece is Houston Rockets sharpshooter Eric Gordon. At the ripe old age of 33, Gordon is in the midst of his best-ever shooting year, posting an effective field goal percentage of 60.5. For the year, he’s putting up 14.6 points and 3.5 assists per game while hitting 44.7% of his threes.
Hollinger proposes Jones, Brown and a second-round pick for Gordon.