Insider Reveals Bulls’ Plans for Star Trio

Chicago Bulls

Getty Zach LaVine #8, Nikola Vucevic #9 and DeMar DeRozan #11 of the Chicago Bulls walk on the court.

It might seem strange to think a team such as the Chicago Bulls, with their 9-14 record, and think they should make anyone untouchable in trade talks. But according to one NBA insider, the Bulls are believed to be doing just that.

This season was supposed to be about continuity as the Bulls brought just three outside additions into training camp on guaranteed contracts.

Two of the three additions have largely panned out as hoped – the third is rookie Dalen Terry.

Perhaps that is why they aren’t ready to completely blow it up despite their record coming off of a 2-4 road trip. Of course, that doesn’t mean a generally aggressive front office – even their pursuit of continuity could be viewed as heavy-handed given last year’s results – won’t be aggressive once again with the pieces they are willing to move.

DeRozan, LaVine ‘Off Limits’

There have been innumerable amounts of hypothetical trade proposals sending one Bulls player or another to a different city. That has been the case since the summer, however, things seem to ratchet up with every loss.

The Bulls have lost three straight games, have just four wins in their last 11 tries, and sit 12th in the Eastern Conference, though they are just 1.5 games out of the Play-In Tournament field.

Still, according to Fox Sports’ NBA insider, Ric Bucher, the Bulls are holding firm in some ways.

“[The] Bulls are…laden with expensive rosters and high expectations and currently on course to miss the postseason,” Bucher writes. “But with stars that league sources say they’ve deemed untouchable – Zach LaVine and DeMar DeRozan …and role players with outsized contracts – Lonzo Ball and Nikola Vucevic…their flexibility to make a meaningful addition appears limited.”

DeRozan is in the second year of a three-year, $81.9 million contract while LaVine signed a five-year, $215 million contract this past offseason. The former has done more to help change the culture for the Bulls in his one-plus years in Chicago than anyone since Jimmy Butler.

Perhaps ironically, Butler was traded by the Bulls for a package that included LaVine whom the Bulls hope will take reigns from DeRozan in due time.

Vucevic is in the final year of his contract at $22 million. He has played better this year but it hasn’t helped enough and, after stalled negotiations for an extension, it appears the Bulls are more willing to move him than not.

The wild card is Ball who has been down with a knee injury since January.

Bulls head coach Billy Donovan said that there has been slow progress following a second surgery to remove some loose bodies that Ball’s father says caused nerve damage.

Ball is the key to a lot of the things that made the Bulls so dangerous early on last season be it with his defense or starting fast breaks with hit-ahead passes. Without him, they simply have not looked like the same team.

Re-Tool, Not Reboot

A rival executive spoke out about the possibility the Bulls would not go into the tank in pursuit of keeping their draft pick this season and landing, say, Victor Wembayama.

“I don’t think they will take that approach,” the exec told Heavy Sports’ NBA insider Sean Deveney. “They are committed to seeing what this team can do if it is all whole together, healthy, which it has not been since they brought everyone together last year.”

The exec went on to say that, while injuries can be a crutch, he doesn’t believe they are under pressure to sell off pieces.

That could lead to additions as we approach the deadline as they try to balance out the roster before we see them make moves to take away from the core group. But, even if they reach that point, it won’t be to deal away DeRozan or LaVine, despite popular notions.

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