Could the Chicago Bulls find their way into trade discussions for Utah Jazz star Donovan Mitchell? They were not willing to meet Utah’s asking price for center Rudy Gobert who the Jazz traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves.
They could value the soon-to-be 26-year-old Mitchell over the 30-year-old Gobert whose value has been hotly debated in recent weeks.
There is also a chance Mitchell’s price tag is less, or at least more reasonable, than Gobert’s.
This would require interest from a Bulls front office that has pushed continuity all offseason. But NBC Sports’ Steve Coulter thinks that it is plausible that the Bulls would have already had exploratory conversations adding that they could have enough to swing a deal.
Another NBA Shockwave
The Salt Lake Tribune’s Andy Larsen reported Utah was actively rejecting overtures from other teams trying to land Mitchell. But, after trading away Gobert, ESPN’s Tim McMahon reported there are “whispers around the league” that team president Danny Ainge is not truly sold on the three-time All-Star.
They continue to say they do not intend to trade him, writes The Athletic’s Tony Jones. But they also traded away his friends perhaps signaling that his time being the most important voice in the organization was over.
Then, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that they were now open to listening to offers for the face of the franchise.
This, says Coulter, is where the Bulls could look to step in and potentially raise their ceiling.
“The Bulls have to be looking at the Eastern Conference landscape and wondering what must they do to remain competitive at the very top — and make a deep run into the postseason. While their backcourt is seemingly solidified with Lonzo Ball, Zach LaVine, and DeMar DeRozan, the Bulls could take a swing at Mitchell by offering former No. 4 overall pick Patrick Williams and some future draft picks.”
Now, the Bulls cannot trade a draft pick until 2028. They could do pick swaps until then. But they would have to remove protections on previously traded picks from the trades that brought DeRozan and Nikola Vucevic to Chicago.
What Works, What Doesn’t
Chicago would also have to add salary outside of Williams – whom the Jazz wanted for Gobert – to make a deal work. A deal that included Alex Caruso and Coby White would satisfy salary-matching requirements.
The Bulls could swap out Caruso and/or White while adding Ball. He has been slow to recover from a knee injury. But he is still 24 years old and shot over 42% on threes last season.
Coulter also offered up an alternative that included one of those two All-Stars.
“If the franchise didn’t want to leverage its future assets like it did at the 2021 NBA trade deadline, then it might just offer a two-for-one: DeRozan and Williams straight up for Mitchell. DeRozan’s productivity is unquestioned but with two years left on his deal, Mitchell makes more sense long term.”
That deal seems even less likely given the Jazz were into a rebuild following the Gobert trade.
Moving on from Mitchell would move them squarely into a tanking situation and without interest in a 32-year-old DeRozan. And, If the Jazz were set on Williams for Gobert, they would likely insist on him for Mitchell as well.
Finding something that works on all fronts is not the only thing complicating a potential blockbuster deal, either.
State of Mind Over Matter
Utah has already begun engaging with the New York Knicks on a potential deal for Mitchell, report The Athletic’s Shams Charania and Tony Jones. Mitchell is a native New Yorker and has also been loosely linked to the Brooklyn Nets.
But the Knicks might not the biggest impediment to getting Mitchell, who is entering the second year of a five-year, $163 million contract, per Spotrac.
It’s whether or not the Bulls’ front office would even consider such a move.
General manager Marc Eversley reinforced vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas’ push for continuity saying that he didn’t think that there was “any one player or one giant leap” that would be available to push them over the top.
They seem to view Durant that way after placing a call to the Nets. Is Mitchell in a similar class, maybe not in accomplishment, but if you factor in his age and remaining potential upside?
More importantly, is he enough of a difference-maker to change the Bulls’ current philosophy?