A major Chicago Bulls trade could be coming, but the team might have already missed an opportunity to pursue a blockbuster deal for the Minnesota Timberwolves’ Karl-Anthony Towns.
The Bulls are mired in a dreadful stretch of play that has seen them lose 14 of their last 20 games. This swoon couldn’t be happening at a worse time as there are just two games remaining in the regular season.
The Bulls have locked up a spot in the playoffs for the first time since 2017, but no matter who they face in the first round, you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who would predict Chicago to last more than 5 games against the Boston Celtics, Philadelphia 76ers or Milwaukee Bucks.
If things play out as they have over the past month-plus, the Bulls are headed for a quick exit from the playoffs and some major changes could be afoot in the offseason.
Which Bulls Might Be Headed Out?
It would appear the Bulls will part ways with Nikola Vucevic and Coby White, if possible. While both players have had their moments this season, neither has performed consistently and they’re play during the 20-game stretch of struggle has been a microcosm of the team’s hardships.
White has had his least productive months of the season since hitting his stride after he recovered from shoulder surgery. He averaged just 9.9 points per game in March and has been even less productive in April scoring 8.3 per night. Vucevic’s struggles have been even more maddening considering he is supposed to be the third member of Chicago’s Big 3.
In 3 crucial games against the Heat, Bucks and Celtics, Vucevic has been a virtual no-show. He’s been outplayed by everyone from Dewayne Dedmon and Bobby Portis to Bam Adebayo and Al Horford. In those three games, Vucevic has only managed to contribute 10.7 points and 7.7 rebounds per game while making 32.6% of his shots from the field and 16.7% of his threes.
That’s simply not going to cut it for an above-average big man like Vucevic. It’s those struggles that might prompt Chicago to move him for a more athletic center with more versatility.
Was Acquiring KAT Simply a Phone Call Away Earlier This Season?
Towns isn’t going to win Defensive Player of the Year, but few big men–if any–have his inside-outside game along with elite rebounding.
Would the Bulls consider trading not only Vucevic and White, but Patrick Williams if it meant getting an opportunity to acquire Towns?
They may have already missed out on that opportunity.
Towns seemed unhappy before the season started, but less so now that the Timberwolves have made their own return to the postseason alongside Anthony Edwards. An Eastern Conference executive was asked if Williams would be a trade candidate this offseason. He told Heavy’s Sean Deveney:
“They have put out this idea that Williams is the first big pick of that group there and they’re invested in making him work, obviously they like the guy a lot,” the East exec said. “That’s not to say there is no price they would not meet, just that it will be a tough thing to get them to budge on. Before Minnesota had this big turnaround, there was a lot of concern that Karl-Anthony Towns was going to ask out. Now, 10 games over .500, that is probably not happening, but you never know what’s going to go down in the playoffs or if they fall flat out of the gate next year.”
There appears to be a strong belief that short of a young superstar like KAT, Williams isn’t going anywhere.
“Honestly, for the Bulls to move Williams, it would take KAT,” the East exec affirmed. “They could make it work, with Williams, Vucevic, Coby White and a pick. Unless it is Jokic who, obviously, is Arturas’ guy, there is a short list of guys they would move Williams for. KAT is the most realistic but the way they’ve played as changed the landscape there.”
Was there a chance to put in a bid for KAT earlier this season or perhaps during the offseason? Perhaps, but with the Wolves’ arrow pointing up, it feels unlikely Minnesota would be inclined to make that kind of move.
It’s hard not to wonder how a lineup with Lonzo Ball, Alex Caruso, Zach LaVine, DeMar DeRozan and Towns would look at the end of games. Perhaps we’ll never know.
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