Bulls Eyeing $175M Trio of Potential Lonzo Ball Replacements: Report

Lonzo Ball, Chicago Bulls

Getty Lonzo Ball #2 of the Chicago Bulls.

The Chicago Bulls (26-27) have options. They don’t have to do anything – in fact, they have conditioned fans to expect both nothing and everything as evidenced by their swift overhaul of the roster over the first 2.5 years of executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas’ tenure and only minimal moves to fill out the group since.

But that could all change with the team mostly middling this season and Lonzo Ball still shelved.

“The Bulls have an interest in Jazz guard Mike Conley, Nuggets guard Bones Hyland, and Hornets guard Terry Rozier, among others,” reports Sam Amico of Hoops Wire about Chicago’s potential trade deadline targets who all bring different things to the table.

Chicago hoped that Ball would return at some point this season but, as Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times reports, the injured guard could officially be shut down for the season soon.

Meanwhile, Shams Charania of The Athletic reports that the Bulls are intent on winning and have been eyeing guard help ahead of the deadline, further supporting Amico’s report albeit with less specificity. Each of the potential targets Amico mentioned has also been linked to them in the past going yet another step toward connecting the smoke to the fire.

Bulls’ Previous Pursuit of Mike Conley Could Pay Off

Conley, 35, told Sam Amick of The Athletic that he had interest from several teams during free agency in 2021 and the Bulls were one of them.

“There were a couple of teams that were involved,” Conley said of his 2021 venture into the open market. “It was Chicago, Dallas. … New York was early, and then they kind of were off and on. For me, it was simple. It was the easiest decision.”

The one-time All-Star signed a three-year, $68 million deal to return to Utah.

Utah is currently in the Play-In Tournament field as the 10-seed and, despite going with a younger core and being pegged for a top draft slot, might not want to move Conley.

“Conley is another interesting case for the Jazz, because he may ultimately be more valuable to Utah than what the Jazz could get from trading him,” explains The Athletic’s Tony Jones. “At least one Western Conference team offered a significant expiring contract for Conley earlier in the season, sources say. But the Jazz weren’t interested. Conley has been a rock to lean on for a young locker room. He’s happy in Utah, and the Jazz are happy with him.”

He is averaging 10.7 points on 55.2% true shooting with 7.6 assists, and 2.3 rebounds.

Chicago could offer Denver a package around Nikola Vucevic’s expiring $22 million salary and Coby White who is in the final year of his rookie deal but may have flashed enough to warrant Utah taking a flier on. But they would have to add Kelly Olynyk whom the Jazz to make the money work and Utah might prefer trying to move him in a separate deal.

Things get murkier when it comes down to draft compensation since the Bulls lack the kind of young assets that usually change hands in these types of deals.

Alex Caruso For Bones Hyland?

“The Nuggets are open to conversations about wings,” wrote Matt Moore of The Action Network listing “Chris Duarte, Terance Mann, and Alex Caruso (likely too expensive for Denver’s asset cache) on their list of considerations.”

Caruso has been described as a plug-and-play option for any contender but Moore has said that the asking price for the 2020 champion Laker – two first-round picks, per Jake Fischer on the “Please Don’t Aggregate This” podcast – has caused some teams to back off. But the Bulls’ interest in Hyland could present a path to a trade deadline deal despite Moore’s note that Caruso may be priced outside of the Nuggets’ range.

Denver’s asking price for the 22-year-old former 26th-overall pick (2021) is not exactly cheap either.

“Ahead of next Thursday’s trade deadline, the Nuggets are seeking players with two-way skills on similar, cost-controlled contracts as Hyland has in addition to pick compensation. The Nuggets believe they have traction on potentially acquiring a first-round pick,” writes Mike Singer of The Denver Post.

Would Denver be willing to include a (perhaps protected) pick to add Caruso?

Hyland’s contract is only worth $10 million but Denver can fit Caruso into their $9 million traded player exception to make the money work while helping the Bulls stay well below the luxury tax line.

Terry Rozier Checks Some Boxes

This is the newest link though sending Rozier to Chicago is not a new idea in the age of hypothetical trades. The 28-year-old would check a couple of the boxes that Ball would if he were healthy even if he is not the playmaker the injured Bull has proven to be.

Rozier is averaging a career-best 21.8 points on 52.1% true shooting with 4.9 assists, and 4.4 rebounds. He is in the first year of a four-year $96 million deal but, with Charlotte sitting 14th in the Eastern Conference, they are at least mulling a serious change of direction, per Zach Lowe of ESPN.

The 6-foot-1 combo guard boasts a 6-foot-8 wingspan and shot 38% from downtown from 2018 through 2022.

Landing Rozier could be tricky with only Ball and Vucevic’s contracts matching his $21.4 million salary barring additional players and/or draft assets from both sides. But Rozier is arguably the best blend of everything the Bulls need among these three options.

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