Proposed Trade Sees Bulls Land 4-Time All-NBA Star for Former Top-10 Pick, All-Star

Coby White, Chicago Bulls

Getty Coby White #0 of the Chicago Bulls takes a three point shot

The noise surrounding the Chicago Bulls and Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert has reached a fever pitch. After The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor reported that the Bulls were a team that has expressed interest in the Frenchman, Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer followed suit.

Fischer asserts that any deal for Gobert would involve sending center Nikola Vucevic. The 31-year-old two-time All-Star is heading into the final year of his deal.

He also showed some signs of decline and struggled to fit in as a third option last season.

While we know what the Bulls can send in a potential deal for Gobert, there are differing opinions on what else they should include in their hypothetical offer with Spotrac’s Keith Smith weighing in as well.

Packaged Properly

Fischer built upon O’Connor’s mention of the Bulls’ interest in Gobert, adding a package that he feels would get the Jazz to agree. The appeal of Gobert, writes Fisher, would be to “fortify a defensive attack around LaVine”.

His proposal would send Vucevic along with coveted forward, Patrick Williams, and whatever player they select with the 18th-overall pick.

Bulls brass has been considering their options at center since February’s trade deadline, sources said…And while Vucevic is generally considered a net negative on the defensive end…Williams would introduce the perimeter defender the Jazz have long been said to covet.

Whether the Bulls would be able to stomach it is another discussion entirely.

As Fischer points out, the Bulls have been reluctant to part with the first draft pick of Bulls vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas’ tenure.

The Bulls were strongly resistant to including Williams in preliminary conversations with the Detroit Pistons to acquire Jerami Grant before the trade deadline.

They would still need to add another piece to make the money work, per Spotrac’s Roster Manager. Fischer has just the candidate in an alternate proposal that would keep Williams in a Bulls jersey.

Adding Coby White, whose value the Bulls previously explored on the trade market, and Javonte Green would make the money work to match Gobert’s hefty contract.

Opinions Split on Gobert and Vucevic

That package would allow the Bulls out in front of the looming contract decisions of Vucevic and White while also addressing their biggest deficiency. They ranked 25th in blocked shots and 28th in rebounding during the regular season.

And, as Bleacher Report’s Grant Hughes explained, Vucevic was not an immovable force in the paint.

Vucevic is a high-usage, offense-first center who’s posted effective field-goal percentages below the average for his position in six of the last seven seasons. Last year, he also allowed opponents to shoot 63.3 percent inside six feet, the fourth-worst figure among the 23 players who defended at least 400 such shots.

Smith said that he would pass on a possible deal. Though, he did add that the package with White instead of Williams seems more appropriate in sentiments that echoed an earlier warning from NBA analyst Morten Jensen.

Williams is too much for me. Vucevic and Coby White makes a lot more sense value-wise. I’d probably just stay away entirely though if I was Chicago.

For what it’s worth, NBC Sports Chicago’s K.C. Johnson made sure to note on the “Bulls Talk Podcast” that Vucevic was drawing positive reviews for his defense from rival scouts earlier in the regular season.

Injuries, namely the torn meniscus of point guard Lonzo Ball, affected Vucevic the most.

Can he be good enough for them to compete with the upper-echelon teams even when fully healthy? The Chicago Sun-Times’ Joe Cowley does not think so. Add in the uncertainty surrounding Ball’s knee and the future becomes murkier.

Sparing No Expense

Analyst Will Gottlieb of CHGO_Bulls made a strong counter-argument to many of the questions surrounding this hypothetical scenario. He starts by refuting the notion that Gobert’s contract will prohibit the Bulls from improving.

He has $123 million owed to him over the next three years guaranteed and a $47 million player option for the 2025-26 season, per Spotrac.

Trading for Gobert would put the Bulls into the luxury tax. Bulls president Michael Reinsdorf told Johnson in February paying the tax to compete for championships was “part of the nature of the NBA”.

“When it comes to a team like this (the Bulls), and if we can take the necessary steps next year that allow us to compete for a championship, then for sure we’ll go into the tax. It’s part of the nature of the NBA.”

The front office has also proven to be aggressive with the trade for Vuevic at the 2021 trade deadline as well as the flurry of moves last summer.

There are also reports that they are expected to deal away whomever they select with the 18th pick (they cannot trade the pick directly). As for including Williams, the prevailing thought is they would move him for “the piece”.

Whether or not they feel like Gobert is that piece is the question.

Bulls Have Been Bouncing Options

Fischer reporting that the Bulls have been exploring these options since February would seem to contradict Karnisovas’ insistence on continuity. But the Bulls’ architect also said that his front office would “look at everything” during his exit interview similar to LaVine.

Both Karnisovas and head coach Billy Donovan commended Vucevic for his durability. this season in their end-of-season comments. The big man was also a critical component in luring his college teammate, DeMar DeRozan, to Chicago.

Now it seems his days with the Bulls may be numbered. The only question remaining is who will be traded with him?

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