Bulls Help Bolster West Rival’s Playoff Chances in Pre-Deadline Trade

Chicago Bulls

Getty Arturas Karnisovas of the Chicago Bulls.

There is not expected to be much noise from the Chicago Bulls (22-24) at the February 9 trade deadline but that doesn’t mean there aren’t any of their assets on the move. The Bulls are still riding the hope that Lonzo Ball can return and help elevate them to another level or at least help them find a modicum of consistency.

They have stemmed the tide, winning 10 of their last 16 games to keep themselves within striking distance of the six-seed and a guaranteed playoff spot rather than clinging to a spot in the Play-In Tournament.

But, ahead of their eventual 111-100 win against the Atlanta Hawks, the Bulls found themselves generating buzz for a different reason than their recent surge.

They were passive participants in the biggest trade to date ahead of the NBA season.

Bulls Help Lakers Get Rui Hachimura

“Lakers are sending the 2023 Chicago second-rounder, their own 2029 second-rounder and the Wizards/Lakers less favorable second-rounder in 2028 in the Kendrick Nunn-for-Rui Hachimura trade,” tweeted Shams Charania of The Athletic.

The Bulls originally sent the pick to the Washington Wizards in the trade that brought Otto Porter Jr. to Chicago. Of course, that deal also sent Bobby Portis and Jabari Parker to Washington in a deal that was largely financially motivated and never truly worked out with Porter injured for the majority of his Bulls tenure.

They would later remove the protections on the pick (initially top-36 restricted) while sending a 2020 second-rounder to Washington for Tomas Satoransky five months later.

Satoransky was sent to the New Orleans Pelicans for Ball after two seasons.

Washington sent the 2023 pick to the Lakers in the deal that sent Russell Westbrook to Los Angeles along with two other second-round picks (2024 and 2028) for a package that included breakout forward Kyle Kuzma whom many believe was the impetus for trading Hachimura.

Kuzma is set to be an unrestricted free agent next summer and has put himself in line for a massive payday.

How great of an impact Hachimura has on the 22-25 Lakers remains to be seen. But this is could turn out to be a steal for them – Hachimura was the ninth overall pick in 2019, just two picks after Coby White was selected by Chicago. The 24-year-old brings size, toughness, and a diverse skill set to an aging and rigid Lakers roster.

This is, however, a stark reminder of just where the Bulls stand on the trade market.

Bulls Depleted Assets For Current Group

That the Bulls still owe the Orlando Magic another first-round pick from the trade to bring Nikola Vucevic to Chicago. He has played better of late but the Bulls have caught plenty of heat for dealing away that first, Wendell Carter Jr., and the pick that was used to take Franz Wagner.

They also still owe a first-round pick to the San Antonio Spurs from the deal to bring in DeMar DeRozan.

Where it gets really dire is their lack of even second-round picks.

“A lot of times we see in the NBA, second-round picks are how deals get done,” asserted Trevor Lane on ‘The NBA Front Office Show’ on January 23. “They’re what gets used to grease the wheels – that and cash being thrown in – in order to make moves…Sometimes it’s, you get enough of these and you can make the smaller moves that become a big move.”

The Bulls lost a second-round pick when they were found guilty of tampering while pursuing Ball before making the trade and will have to forfeit their next one.

That could be as soon as this season with the 2023 second-rounder owed to them by the Cleveland Cavaliers (from the Denver Nuggets) appearing likely to convey being protected for the top-46 in the 2023 draft.

Denver is currently atop the Western Conference standings at 33-14.

Yesterday’s Moves Hurting Bulls Today

Otherwise, the next free second-round pick the Bulls own outright is not until 2026 leaving their currency for those minor deals in much the same situation as their ability to make a big splash.

Fortunately for them, then, they are not planning on making any major moves at the trade deadline by all reports. Whether that is by choice or simply the reality of their asset coffers and a decrease from management to avoid the luxury tax, the result will be the same barring an unforeseen change and that could be a mistake.

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