The Chicago Bulls are laying the groundwork to run it back one more season but the calls for a significant change are getting louder.
“[Bulls executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas] Karnisovas visited Disney World once as VP of the Bulls and came back with [center Nikola] Vucevic, mouse ears and a lot fewer draft picks,” wrote Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times on June 3. “Yes, it’s time for another trip.”
There have been several variations of this deal floating around in recent weeks.
The outgoing piece for Chicago has been Zach LaVine, though. Swapping him out for DeRozan and adding Williams created a different wrinkle.
“The Bulls get back an untapped defensive-minded point guard in Suggs, who has been misused in Orlando,” Cowley argues. ”Harris is a sneaky-good three-point shooter and defender, while Isaac is a major gamble…But if the knee problems are finally behind the one-time Florida State standout, the Bulls suddenly have a real rim protector.”
Harris, 28, is the oldest of the three and was the No. 19 overall pick in 2014. He averaged just 8.3 points per game but shot 43.1% from downtown last season and is heading into the final year of a two-year, $26 million contract.
Isaac, 25, was the No. 6 overall pick in 2017. He only appeared in 11 games last season and has missed all but 45 games since the end of the 2019 season.
He is entering the third year of a four-year, $69.6 million pact.
Suggs, 22, was the No. 5 overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft. He made more appearances in his second NBA season (53) than as a rookie (48) but his stats took a step back with Suggs averaging 9.9 points, 3.0 rebounds, and 2.9 assists, though he did also average 1.3 steals.
As Cowley notes, all three would complement the offensive-minded duo of LaVine and Vucevic well as defensive offsets. But the real value for the Bulls could be in getting their own draft pick back. They already missed out on drafting Franz Wagner – whom Orlando took with their No. 8 overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft – or some other prospect.
This would give them a chance to replenish their roster with young, cost-controlled talent which ownership might prefer.
Bulls Could Double-Dip With Magic
Vucevic, 32, is an unrestricted free agent this offseason and the two sides have already begun having talks on an extension. Nothing is imminent on that but the original trade has been lambasted as one of if not the worst trade in the last few years.
It’s not because of his play, but rather because of what the Bulls gave up to get him and their limited ceiling as currently constructed. This deal offers the chance to reverse it a bit, getting some longevity back while Orlando has been rumored to be in the market for a veteran, though it has mostly been point guards like Toronto Raptors star Fred VanVleet.
The question then has to be what DeRozan would prefer.
Even if he doesn’t have a no-trade clause in his contract like Washington Wizards star Bradley Beal, DeRozan has been a model member of the organization.
“Of the three main Bulls guys, I think there’s the most support internally for DeRozan,” wrote Sam Smith of Bulls.com in a response to a fan from his mailbag on May 19. “Which doesn’t mean it can’t change.”
DeMar DeRozan Doesn’t ‘Need’ to Finish Career in L.A.
Assuming the Bulls are fine with moving on from DeRozan and possibly helping the Magic overtake them in the standings completely, the other roadblock would seem to be DeRozan’s wishes on his next destination.
A Los Angeles native, he almost joined both the Clippers and Lakers as a free agent in the summer of 2021.
DeRozan is also said to have had an interest in joining the New York Knicks and vice versa.
The six-time All-Star is heading into the final year of his contract and could, like many NBA players, prefer to go to a title contender which could open the door to a multi-team deal involving one – or more – of his previous potential landing spots.