Many things have gone awry for the Chicago Bulls (25-27) this season. They are currently 25-27 after their 129-121 victory over the visiting Portland Trail Blazers but they also sit one game out of the eight-seed while simultaneously being equidistant from the 12th spot in the Eastern Conference and out of even the Play-In Tournament.
“From everything I’m told about the Bulls, their full intention and full goal right now is to keep trying to win,” NBA insider Shams Charania of The Athletic told ‘Waddle & Silvy’ on ESPN 1000 in Chicago.
Charania says that goal has the Bulls eyeing help in a specific area ahead of the February 9 trade deadline.
And, while much of the talk has been about the Bulls not making DeMar DeRozan or Zach LaVine available while Nikola Vucevic has garnered little interest, that still leaves a lot of wiggle room for executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas to operate and could open the door for a win-now trade involving injured point guard Lonzo Ball, Coby White — a North Carolina native who has been on the trade block since last season’s trade deadline — and little-used big man Marko Simonovic.
“I’ve heard they’d be more active in other ways,” Charania said. “They’re trying to go get guard help in the trade market. They’re trying to figure is Lonzo Ball going to be able to play at any point the rest of the year. I think they’re still holding out a little bit of hope. But, listen, I think the signs aren’t that good. We hear what Billy Donovan says publicly. But they’re holding out on that hope but they have been active on the marketplace trying to get a guard and see can they get some help to this group.”
Would the Bulls consider reuniting Charlotte Hornets guard LaMelo Ball with his brother?
- Kelly Oubre Jr.
- Terry Rozier Jr.
- Lonzo Ball
- Coby White
- Marko Simonovic
Rozier is averaging career-highs of 27.1 points and 4.9 assists per game also adding 4.4 rebounds. And although he is having a down season from beyond the arc shooting just 33.3%, he has knocked down better than 38% of his looks from beyond the arc over the previous five seasons.
The 6-foot-1 28-year-old is not a true playmaker in the sense that Ball is. But he is a capable defender who boasts a 6-foot-8 wingspan. He is in Year 1 of a four-year, $96 million contract ($21.5 million this season) that runs longer than Ball’s – which has a $21 million player option in 2025 – but he is also more durable having made no fewer than 63 appearances since he established himself in his second NBA season as a member of the Boston Celtics.
Ball has appeared in 63 games just once in his career and saw action in just 35 games for the Bulls last season. Furthermore, Rozier is available as the 15-39 Hornets look to go younger.
“The Charlotte Hornets are open to moving out of Terry Rozier’s sizable contract as the team continues to restructure,” explains Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report. Rozier is not alone as the Hornets have been “discussing” Oubre in trade talks, per a previous report from Charania
Oubre, 27, was in the midst of a breakout campaign of his own averaging 20.2 points and 1.6 steals – both career-highs – with 5.1 rebounds and 1.2 assists. He has been sidelined since December 29 after trying to play through torn ligaments in his hand that required surgery. He is not the shooter that Rozier is at just 30.3% this season from beyond the arc and 32.9% for his career.
But he is long ( 6-foot-6, 7-foot-2 wingspan) He would come over in the final year of a two-year, $24.6 million pact that pays him $12.6 million this season.
This deal works financially and, if both teams want to get even more creative, the Bulls can try to acquire Hornets big man Mason Plumlee and his expiring $8.5 million salary (three-year, $24.6 million contract) while sending out Vucevic’s expiring contract who is also available, per Pincus, though might almost certainly require the inclusion of the rights to the first-round pick owed to the Bulls by the Blazers amid Plumlee’s breakout season with a 12.3/9.7/3.7 line.
Bulls Could Plan For Now And The Future
To this point, the Bulls have publicly supported Ball in his recovery while being careful not to put any more pressure on him to hasten his return which he has said he will not do.
Ball’s timeline to return has gone from 6-to-8 weeks to invariably indefinite as talks of his possible return at some point this season have increasingly shifted to thinking about his career going forward.
The lynchpin to the Bulls’ entire plan, Ball’s absence has been a hindrance to the team on the floor with issues between DeRozan and LaVine sprouting as a byproduct. As dynamic as they are, they need a point guard.
“The personal relationship with Zach and DeMar was never in question,” Charania said of the friction between the two. “I think, off the court, they’re friends, I think they’re tight. It’s just that on-the-court fit, right, where sometimes it seems it becomes a DeMar DeRozan-led team. Other times it’s a Zach LaVine-led team. How can they find that balance?”
Hornets Could Keep LaMelo Ball Happy
As much as LaVar Ball has caught grief along the way, he was (mostly) right about his sons making it to the league. Middle-brother LiAngelo Ball is still trying to crack the big league but has been in the Hornets organization with their G League affiliate, the Greensboro Swarm. He also says that LaMelo is playing out of position and presents Lonzo as the solution.
“[LaMelo] love to score. He just played point guard out of necessity but he really love to score,” the elder Ball told King adding, “the only person that could let him score crazy is Lonzo got to play that point.”
Their father’s everlasting vision has been to see all of his sons play for the same team in the NBA and this may be the best shot at that happening.
Charlotte is heading for a retool and, with an apparent budding star like youngest Ball bro, LaMelo, perhaps they would make this deal to keep him appeased as they figure out what exactly this direction will be.
“It’s hard to read anything into Ball’s season. He has missed half of it. The Hornets are in shambles — and in trade talks about almost all their veterans”, writes ESPN insider Zach Lowe.