The Chicago Bulls might not be players in the Kevin Durant sweepstakes. But they can still benefit from whatever deal eventually comes. That’s if one does at all. Their role would have to be as an ancillary facilitator, though, says a rival general manager.
Chicago’s offseason has been met with mixed reactions.
The Chicago Sun-Times’ Joe Cowley writes the Bulls at least upgraded their bench. But they are still behind several teams in the Eastern Conference.
A deal for Durant would change that math. But the Bulls not landing the 12-time All-Star and three-time champion does not mean that they couldn’t make a move that would help them significantly.
Game Within A Game
When news first broke of Durant’s request to be traded, the Bulls were among the favorites to land him. Their odds even seemed to potentially shift in their favor at one point. They went as far as making the obligatory call to the Brooklyn Nets to check the price tag.
“They have not really been involved in those talks, which is not surprising because they have no picks to give up. They can’t trade picks for another four years so that’s going to stop a conversation with Brooklyn right there.”
That would not necessarily end the Bulls’ involvement, though.
“You could imagine them getting involved if they put Coby White into the deal, but just as a third or fourth team that is pulling something else out of it.”
There are players the Bulls could use from teams that have been linked to Durant such as Matisse Thybulle of the Philadelphia 76ers or Talen Horton-Tucker from the Los Angeles Lakers. L.A. has been a rumored destination for Durant’s teammate, Kyrie Irving.
Those are both wings, however, and the Bulls have a need for more size.
Get In Where They Fit In
The executive acknowledged the fit for Durant on the Bulls would be good. And that the Nets might have to face a harsh reality. Their asking price has been impacted by what the Utah Jazz got in return from the Minnesota Timberwolves for center Rudy Gobert.
It still does not figure to add up to Durant landing in Chicago, though.
“Durant would look good in a Bulls uniform, he would be a good piece, but they do not have the assets to get him there. The Nets are not going to get the giant package they want. But they’re going to be able to do better than what the Bulls can give you.”
That is the reality of the Bulls’ situation as they head into the second year with this core.
It’s why their bet on improved health and continuity helping them take that next step is so significant.
There are not many alternatives, says The Athletic’s Darnell Mayberry.
The Bulls spent a lot of draft capital to put this group together. And they could be looking at spending even more to give it the kind of continuity that the top teams have experienced. Finding ways to supplement their big three is critical.
A Basic Benefit
One simple way the Bulls could benefit from a Durant trade is simply by his departure. His preferred destination is the Phoenix Suns. While getting there is proving to be a complex ordeal, per SB Nation’s Ricky O’Donnell, he would be in the West and largely out of the Bulls’ hair.
They were only a handful of wins away from hosting a playoff series and sat in first place after the All-Star break.
The rub is, though the Nets were projected to finish above the Bulls next season in the aftermath of the NBA Finals, per Fanduel Sportsbook, they finished behind them this past season. They also went 1-2 in their head-to-head matchups. Brooklyn also failed to win even one playoff game.
It would still be better for the Bulls to face Durant fewer times during the regular season.