Bulls ‘Intrigued’ By Freakishly Athletic Big Man at Trade Deadline: Report

Getty Billy Donovan

The NBA Trade deadline passed without the Chicago Bulls pulling any deals. It is believed the team will be busy on the buyout market with players like Tristan Thompson, Goran Dragic, Thaddeus Young and Paul Millsap potentially available.

While those players could be available and positive additions to Chicago’s roster, there was one potential acquisition at the deadline that should raise some eyebrows. According to Marc Berman of the New York Post–who referenced a source–the Bulls were “intrigued” by the New York Knicks’ Mitchell Robinson. Ultimately, the Knicks elected to stay with the uber-talented 7-footer who turns 25 on April 1.

“The Bulls were intrigued by Robinson, according to the source, because they were looking for another defensive center to go along with Nikola Vucevic as they eye a long playoff push,” Berman wrote.

Before the deadline, most wouldn’t have pegged the Bulls as a team in the market for a backup center. While current backup Tony Bradley isn’t exactly Hakeem Olajuwon, he still seems to be firmly in position as the next man up when the Bulls want to keep a traditional big man in while Vucevic sits.

“The Knicks’ decision to not trade Robinson for assets shows they at least feel Robinson would accept a contract extension if one is offered,” Berman continued. “They can offer him a extension of five years, $55 million.”

How much of an upgrade would Robinson be over Bradley?”

Robinson Would Have Provided Rare Flexibility for the Bulls

The basic usage for Robinson would be as a backup center for Vucevic. Robinson’s combination of length and athleticism is nearly unmatched. We’re essentially talking about a guy whose catch and block radius are arguably even better than Giannis Antetokounmpo.

This allows Robinson to be a major rim protector and one of the most formidable pick-and-roll and lob threats in the NBA. For his career, Robinson has made just under 72% of his shots from the field. So far this season, through 52 games, Robinson has converted 76% of his shots. That has him on pace to eclipse his previous best season field goal percentage from 2019-20 when he led the league with a 74% mark. Why does he shoot such a high percentage? Because his length and athleticism after screens and offensive rebounds leads to a lot of dunks and point-blank shots.

He also averages 2 blocks per game for his career. He’s at 1.6 so far this season. Robinson is also one of the better pick-and-roll-defending bigs in the NBA. His physical gifts allow him to stay with smaller opponents and it’s possible, that would have allowed Bulls head coach Billy Donovan to play with Robinson at the power forward position.

While the Cleveland Cavaliers aren’t the team to beat the Eastern Conference, but having the option to go with a large frontcourt is easier when one of the bigs is as agile as Robinson. Likewise, Vucevic and Robinson stand a much better chance of slowing down Bulls nemesis and Philadelphia 76ers superstar Joel Embiid. It is unclear what the Bulls offered, but chances are, it might have been worth it.

According to Berman, the pursuit of Robinson may not be over just yet for Chicago.

The Bulls’ Pursuit of Robinson Might Not Be Over

Robinson will be a free agent at the end of the season, and he could walk away from the Knicks without compensation. According to Berman, the Bulls should be one of the teams interested.

“The Pistons, Bulls, Mavs and his hometown Pelicans should each have interest this summer,” Berman reported. “One person close to Robinson said the Louisiana native would be interested in the returning to the Bayou State.”

If this is the group of teams vying for Robinson’s services, the question will be: can the Bulls lure Robinson away from his hometown team, and also fight off pick-and-roll maestro Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks?

That all remains to be seen, but if the Bulls can add Robinson by only parting ways with guys like Derrick Jones Jr. and Matt Thomas who have expiring contracts, it would be a major win for the roster.

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