How serious are the Chicago Bulls about contending for an NBA championship this season? We might get an answer to that question when we get a chance to see what deals–if any–are made before or at the NBA Trade Deadline.
A recently suggested deal would make the Bulls instant contender–even if there are still critics who feel the current roster isn’t on that level. Bleacher Report’s Greg Swartz goes all-in with a trade concept between the Bulls and the Detroit Pistons.
When the smoke clears, the Bulls would have arguably the best starting five in the NBA.
The Bulls Land Jerami Grant in Blockbuster Trade Proposal
Channeling my inner Clinton Yates (the ESPN 30-for-30 narrator), what if I told you the Bulls could add an elite player like the Pistons’ Jerami Grant without giving up Patrick Williams in a trade?
That might sound like a stretch, but Swartz has put together a deal that seems partially far-fetched, but feasible enough to have some merit. Here is the deal that would land the Bulls Grant as their new starting power forward.
Chicago Bulls Receive: F Jerami Grant
Detroit Pistons Receive: G Coby White, F Derrick Jones Jr., C Tony Bradley, 2022 first-round pick (lottery-protected, via Portland Trail Blazers*)
*The pick from Portland is lottery-protected from 2022 to 2028. If it has not been conveyed by 2028, Portland will convey its 2028 second-round pick instead.
On the surface, the Bulls would be drastically weakening their bench by giving up Jones Jr. and Bradley. DJJ, who is nursing an injured hamstring, has been excellent as a reserve and spot starter. He currently has an 0.3 VORP (Value Over Replacement Point) which is solid for a reserve. His impact as a versatile defender, finisher off pick-and-roll and as an effective baseline cutter has helped Chicago this season.
His expiring $9.7 million deal is obviously going to be a major tool for Chicago to use in any deal, but we’d be doing DJJ an injustice if we made no reference to how well he’s played through 23 games this season.
White has shown flashes of returning to the form we’ve seen from during his first 2 seasons, but if we’re being honest, Chicago is going to have to part ways with a valuable young player if they plan on securing any worthwhile addition.
Truth be told, the Bulls have gotten off to the great start they’re enjoying mostly without White’s contributions. There is a school of thought that suggests the Bulls could be even better if White becomes the instant-offense guy off the bench, but you also have to wonder if the overall team would be better bringing in a young star like Grant.
Bradley’s big body has been important in spelling struggling center Nikola Vucevic, and quite honestly, if the Bulls did move Bradley, they would almost certainly have to find another veteran big to the reserve center minutes.
The Proposed Jerami Grant Deal Sounds Better and Better
The more Swartz describes his thought process, the better it all sounds.
“The acquisitions of DeMar DeRozan, Lonzo Ball and Alex Caruso have clearly worked for Chicago, but adding some two-way help at power forward should be a priority with Patrick Williams potentially out for the season following wrist surgery,” Swartz said. “Grant would be a perfect fit in Chicago’s lineup between DeRozan and Nikola Vucevic with his ability to defend multiple positions and carry the offense in spurts when other stars need a break. The 27-year-old is averaging 20.1 points, 4.8 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 1.1 steals and 1.1 blocks in his 33.2 minutes per game.”
Grant is already what most in Chicago hope Williams can become in the next 2-3 years. If Chicago has a chance to acquire Grant, with the possibility of having both him and Williams for the postseason–or at the very least next season–that sounds like an incredibly positive outlook on the team’s short-term future. It also gives the Bulls one of the most veteran-friendly rosters for the upcoming offseason, or even for the buyout period coming later this season.
The team would still need some pieces for this run and next year, but the current roster–combined with their record–makes Chicago really attractive to free agents.
“A starting five of Ball, LaVine, DeRozan, Grant and Vucevic may be the best in the NBA,” Swartz said. “For the Pistons, moving Grant now while he still has a year left on his deal after this season is going to yield the highest return, even if he’s been an important part of their young locker room.”
Grant has been great this season, but he’s currently out while he’s recovering from thumb surgery. He is expected back around or before the NBA All-Star break. That shouldn’t impact a trade. The draft pick, which comes from the Portland Trail Blazers, and is lottery protected from 2022-2028 is also a major piece of the puzzle.
The Pistons would have to feel comfortable that the Blazers will make the playoffs some time in the next 3-4 years so they can cash in on that aspect of the deal some time soon. If it runs until 2028, it’s just a second-rounder.
If that happened, the Pistons would be doing this for a salary dump and White. That’s risky, but the same can be said–to some degree–for every NBA trade.
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