Bulls Among Favorites to Land Former League MVP

Harden and Westbrook

Getty Images Harden and Westbrook

The NBA offseason is in full swing and the rumor mill is churning hard for teams and players alike. The Chicago Bulls have been no strangers to rumors this offseason as reports have popped up about Zach LaVine’s free agency plans and about what other players the team might pursue.

The latest intel has suggested that LaVine will likely re-sign with the Bulls when free agency gets underway on June 30. This is despite a number of reported suitors like the Los Angeles Lakers, Portland Trail Blazers, San Antonio Spurs, and Dallas Mavericks.

Rumors have also suggested that the Bulls are one of the top suitors in a possible trade for Jazz center Rudy Gobert. The Gobert reports aren’t surprising at this point, but a new name popped up for the Bulls on Wednesday that will shock Chicago fans, James Harden.


Harden in Chicago?

On June 21 Bookies.com released their betting odds on where Harden will play next season. The Bulls appear on the list as the team with the fifth-best odds(+1000) to land Harden for next season.

The Philadelphia 76ers are still listed as the favorite to keep Harden at -125 behind them it’s New Orleans Pelicans and San Antonio Spurs at +650. Then the Spurs are ahead of the Bulls on the list at +750.

Behind the Bulls are the Washington Wizards at +1400 and Utah Jazz at +1500. The field is also listed as an option for Harden at +1200.

Harden said after the Sixers’ season ended that he planned to return to Philadelphia next season. The former MVP has a player option for next season worth over $47.3 million.

It’s almost a certainty that Harden will exercise that option especially after struggling during the playoffs, so if Harden were to leave Philadelphia it would likely be via a trade. This is where the Bulls appearing on this list is a little absurd.

The Chicago front office has preached the message of continuity of the core since the trade deadline so it’s unlikely they’d put together the massive trade it would take to land Harden. With Harden being 32 years old on top of the way he struggled during the postseason also makes it unlikely the Bulls would have interest in that trade.


Realistic Targets

Now that the fantasy part of the article is over we can get into some realistic targets that the Bulls could look to add. First, the Bulls will have the 18th overall pick in Thursday night’s NBA Draft which will give them a chance to improve the roster and add some youth.

After the draft, the Bulls will fully turn their attention to free agency where they will first try to re-sign Zach LaVine. If the Bulls can re-sign LaVine then the team will likely look towards affordable players that can help improve some of their weaknesses.

The Bulls reportedly have interest in both PJ Tucker and Nicolas Batum who would both help the team on the defensive end of the floor and with some three-point shooting. Whatever moves the Bulls plan to make in free agency the clock is ticking and June 30 is fast approaching.

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