$29M Playmaker Floated as Replacement for Bulls Starter

Chicago Bulls

Getty Zach LaVine #8 and Ayo Dosunmu #12 of the Chicago Bulls converse.

The Chicago Bulls (9-11) are without Lonzo Ball for the foreseeable future, and Ayo Dosunmu has filled in admirably. But would the Bulls benefit from making a trade for a more proven floor general?

Through 19 games, Dosunmu is posting the worst net rating on the team, per Cleaning The Glass.

“Even if [Nikola] Vucevic, [DeMar] DeRozan, and [Zach] LaVine were all playing at an All-Star level, the Bulls would still need more. Ayo Dosunmu is a keeper,” writes The Ringer’s Michael Pina, “but overextended as a starting point guard, with a turnover rate that eclipses his assist percentage. A more stabilizing presence would go a long way.”

Dosunmu was one of two starters to finish the Bulls’ 114-107 win over the Utah Jazz.

Tyus Jones Could Be a Solution

Pina considers the Bulls to be the NBA’s most depressing team, missing one key element or another even at full strength. He is not alone in his opinion of Dosunmu either with calls for him to be shifted to a bench role in favor of either Alex Caruso or Goran Dragic.

But, given the limitation each of those two has, the Bulls might be wise to pursue an outside option and Pina has a suggestion.

Memphis Grizzlies point guard Tyus Jones.

“It’s a delicate dilemma; trading [Patrick] Williams for someone closer to Chicago’s present-day timeline would be a catastrophe,” Pina concedes. “But less conspicuous buttons can still be pressed…The front office can shop for a real point guard with the protected first they’re owed from the Blazers.”

Interestingly enough, Jones is posting the second-lowest net rating on the Grizzlies this season.

But last season, when he was utilized more suitably, Jones posted the fourth-best net rating on a Grizzlies team that finished second in the Western Conference while going 19-4 in games that the former 24th overall pick in 2015 started.

The Bulls have enjoyed similar success when Dosunmu – who had eight points, four rebounds, and three assists against the Jazz – performs well.

Like Williams, however, Dosunmu has not been on the floor in crunch time for the Bulls.

Tale of the Tape

Dosunmu has hit just two of his last 14 looks from beyond the arc submarining his year-to-date clip to 32.8%. He did not even attempt a shot from long-range against Utah which feeds into one of the Bulls’ bigger issues – a reluctance to shoot the three ball and an inability to consistently shoot it well.

The Bulls are once again dead last in attempted threes per game, just like last season. But this year, instead of ranking second in efficiency as they did last season, they are 13th.

Even in a down season by many accounts, Jones is canning a hair under 36% of his triples.

At 6-foot-4, Dosunmu offers more positional versatility than the 6-foot Jones. But the latter is no slouch, posting defensive ratings raking in the 89th and 72nd percentiles in each of the last two seasons.

The issues arise when trying to fabricate a suitable deal for the 26-year-old Jones that doesn’t include any of the Bulls’ key contributors.

Who Goes to Memphis?

Not only is Jones a key contributor for the Grizzlies but he is also in the first year of a two-year $29 million deal. And the Bulls are not rich with contracts that can be moved to accommodate taking on such a hefty sum without taking away from the core.

To get Jones to the Bulls, they would first have to wait until December 15 when his trade restriction expires.

But they would also have to offer either some combination of Caruso, Williams, and Coby White or try to move the injured Ball. None of those are viable options despite how helpful Jones could potentially be.

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