The Chicago Bulls are once again being faced with questions about whether or not they have done enough to get back into the thick of the playoff race in the Eastern Conference rather than on the fringes of it.
“I think you need to assume this is a little bit more of a limited market,” Vecenie told guest Mark Schindler on the “Game Theory” podcast on August 12. “The Bulls are an interesting one. I think the Bulls could realistically put together an interesting offer. Is Patrick Williams, Alex Caruso, and Lonzo Ball‘s contract enough?”
– Pascal Siakam
– Lonzo Ball
– Alex Caruso
– Patrick Williams
– Draft picks
Siakam, 29, averaged a career-best 24.2 points and 5.8 assists with 7.8 rebounds last season.
A two-time All-Star and All-NBA pick as well as a former champion, what Siakam lacks in three-point shooting – he’s 32.7% career shooter from beyond the arc – he makes up for with on-ball creation and versatile defensive ability.
Energetic at 6-foot-9 with a 7-foot-3 wingspan, he covers a lot of ground.
For a Bulls front office that has prioritized continuity over big splashes since remaking the roster in 2021, this would be a monumental pivot, though one that Schindler says he could see the Bulls pursuing. They have already held trade talks surrounding two-time All-Star Zach LaVine so perhaps they would at least be interested in this as a means to alter their trajectory.
“If I’m the Bulls I just don’t want to do it,” Schindler said. “but I think what’s frustrating is they probably would do it…What we would do for the Bulls is not what they will do. I think if I’m Toronto, that’s fine.”
Vecenie and Schindler do not mention the draft compensation.
However, trades of this magnitude almost always require a substantial amount of it to change hands, though, and the trade rumors surrounding LaVine are a prime example.
Chicago owes a 2025 first-round pick to the San Antonio Spurs that is top-10 protected from the DeMar DeRozan trade during the 2021 offseason and would need to amend those terms before including any picks before 2028 when the current terms say the pick turns into a pair of second-rounders.
It’s a similar position to the one they were in for the last few seasons, as owed picks to the Orlando Magic from the trade for Nikola Vucevic before conveying the last of two – No. 11 overall which the Magic used on Michigan guard Jett Howard – in this year’s draft.
But this deal would come with significant risk as Siakam is said to have made it clear that he plans on exploring free agency if he is traded, per Marc Stein of The Stein Line on July 10.
Bulls Would Be Paying a Hefty Price
Ball’s inclusion is less about the player as he will miss all of this upcoming season and possibly even longer as he continues his recovery from a devastating knee injury and more about his contract which will have just one more year after next season assuming he picks up his player option.
With that option worth $21.4 million and facing an uncertain future, it might be in Ball’s best interest to accept. It might also be in the Bulls’ best interest to avoid being the team that pays him if at all possible.
Caruso and Williams are a different story entirely.
Chicago has held Caruso in high regard, and the 29-year-old is arguably coming off his best season as a pro, making a career-high 67 appearances and 36 starts.
He also earned First-Team All-Defensive honors for the first time in his career.
Caruso is heading into the third year of a four-year, $36.9 million contract and was called the “hardest player to get” ahead of the February trade deadline by Matt Moore of Action Network. But he might not even be the most costly piece in this deal.
That distinction might be better suited for Williams, 21, the No. 4 overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft who has blended flashes of his immense talent with lapses in aggression that left him feeling frustrated after the season. But Vecenie, in particular, remains high on what Williams can still become.
Patrick Williams ‘Really Impactful’
“Pat Williams is pretty good,” Vecenie said. “I went back and watched a lot of Pat Williams tape. Pat Williams is really good on defense now. Really, really impactful guy on defense, now. And is also morphing into a guy that can be a real player. He’s definitely a starter.”
Williams’ talent has never been in question. Instead, it has been his mindset to defer rather than attack consistently when presented with the opportunity.
It’s what he was most distraught about after the season.
“I wanted to be more consistent,” he said, per Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic on April 26. “I wanted to play-make a little bit more…Obviously, every player wants to be able to make plays down the stretch and be able to do that down the stretch. I think I have the skill to do it. I think the opportunity was there. I don’t think I grasped it. Sometimes I did, sometimes I didn’t.”
Given his level of talent and the flashes he has shown, the Bulls have held onto him so far and figure to continue to do so until it becomes clear he is never going to be the player the Bulls need him to be.