League Insiders Detail Latest Bulls Buzz Ahead of Deadline

Thaddeus Young

Getty Thaddeus Young watches as Norman Powell gets the rebound in a March 14 game against the Toronto Raptors.

There are just nine days left until the NBA’s March 25 trade deadline. Will the Chicago Bulls be buyers or sellers?

That much remains uncertain, with the team coming off of a blowout win over the Toronto Raptors on Sunday. Chicago’s now 17-20 on the season and one game back of the eighth-seed Atlanta Hawks.

Tim Bontemps and other staff at ESPN recently polled a number of scouts and league executives regarding teams just outside of the playoff hunt in the Eastern Conference, and how they might approach the trade deadline.

The results were mixed.

Bontemps himself reported that the Bulls may opt to buy talent ahead of the deadline to help them with their playoff push, as they’re determined to reach the postseason for the first time since 2017:

In fact, executives think the Bulls would even consider improvements to push to make the playoffs for the first time since trading Jimmy Butler four years ago, and referenced coach Billy Donovan’s decision to bench Coby White and Wendell Carter Jr. in favor of Tomas Satoransky and Thaddeus Young for Sunday’s win over the Toronto Raptors as proof.

The means of how they would go about that are largely undetermined, though.

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Is Anyone Untouchable in Chicago?

For the Chicago Bulls to make any upgrade of their roster, it’d take trading away one of the few guys who’s helping to keep the team afloat in the Eastern Conference.

Still, one Western Conference executive told Bontemps that there are only two players considered unavailable:

Patrick Williams and Zach [LaVine], I’d think, are untouchables. Otherwise, they’re open.

That’s not a surprising pool, given head coach Billy Donovan’s willingness to bench two former lottery picks in Coby White and Wendell Carter Jr. on Sunday against the Raptors.

LaVine’s just 26-years old, smack in the middle of his prime, a first-time All-Star, and under contract through next season. It’s not yet the time to explore any and all options with his value on the trade market.

Williams, the Bulls first-round pick from this year’s draft, is just 19 years old and coming off of a career-high 23-point performance in their win over Toronto. He’s averaging 10.2 points and 4.7 rebounds per game.

There’s also fourth-year forward Lauri Markkanen, who’s headed for restricted free agency this offseason. An Eastern Conference executive mentioned him as a name to watch when speaking with Bontemps:

I think they’d trade Markkanen if they get a good offer, but I don’t think they’re likely to trade him. I don’t think they do anything unless they get something they love.

It’s possible that the front office is so intent on making the playoffs that they’d truly offer up anyone not named Williams or LaVine if the return was a star player.

Unfortunately, at this moment in time, the market is slim on players of that caliber.

Thaddeus Young’s Future Remains Unclear

The most talked-about trade target in the Windy City this season hasn’t been their All-Star guard or lottery pick point guard, but a 14-year veteran having a career year.

32-year old Thaddeus Young has become the most lusted after name on the trade market, behind averages of 12.1 points, 6.1 rebounds, (career-high) 4.3 assists, and 1.3 steals per game. One Eastern Conference executive told Bontemps and ESPN that given the veteran’s contributions, it’s hard to see Chicago unloading him before the deadline:

He helps [the Bulls] now. But contending teams would be wise to look at him if they decided to move him.

No team has been directly reported as interested in Young, but it might be easier to put together a list of teams that wouldn’t be interested, should the Bulls make him available for trade.

Until then, the push for playoffs continues on.

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