Given the fact that the Chicago Bulls held down the No. 1 spot in the Eastern Conference standings for significant portions of last season, one could almost forgive the team’s front office for running it back with an aggressively imperfect roster in 2022-23.
However, even the rose-colored-glasses crowd would concede that point guard Lonzo Ball was the one who held things together during those stretches.
So, now that the 25-year-old appears to be on the cusp of undergoing a third procedure in the last year on his perpetually banged-up knee, it has become pretty difficult to justify continuing on with the current core. But would chief decision-makers Arturas Karnisovas and Marc Eversely actually deal one of their big guns?
Ahead of the NBA trade deadline, the team had 11th-hour conversations with the New York Knicks about franchise cornerstone Zach LaVine that never developed. And a rival GM is skeptical about the possibility that they could be revisited over the summer.
But he didn’t discount the possibility outright,
East GM: Zach LaVine-Knicks Rumblings Put Out There by Agents?
In addressing the Knicks’ offseason trade potential with Heavy Sports’ Sean Deveney, an Eastern Conference GM mentioned the LaVine angle specifically. However, it was his opinion that some media manipulation may have been occurring on that particular front.
“They’re connected to Zach LaVine… but that might be mostly coming from LaVine’s people,” the GM told Deveney.
Nevertheless, the exec did see a pathway toward a deal between the two clubs, and the pieces that were mentioned as a potential trade return for the Bulls amounted to exactly the kind of package Karnisovas and Co. should be coveting in a rebuilding scenario.
“It is a huge financial commitment taking on LaVine but if [the Knicks] built a package based around [RJ] Barrett and picks — Barrett with [Evan] Fournier and three picks, something in that range — then they might be able to get it done.”
Although Barrett has yet to truly stake his claim as the future of the Knicks, he’s still a former No. 3 overall pick who’s just 22 years old. And while he’s having a bit of a down year overall, his nightly line of 19.8 points, 5.2 rebounds and 2.8 assists smacks of a baller with plenty to offer a rebooted Bulls squad.
Moreover, Chicago is in dire need of draft assets after the failure that was the Nikola Vucevic trade.
Bulls Move Up in B/R Power Rankings
While he stopped short of branding the Bulls as a threat to shock the world as the playoff race heats up, Bleacher Report’s Andy Bailey nonetheless saw fit to bump the club up a spot in B/R’s latest NBA power rankings (from No. 21 to No. 20).
Some of that was inspired by the club’s shocking win over the Denver Nuggets Wednesday, but credit was also given to the impact that new point-man Patrick Beverley has had on the team.
…Patrick Beverley has undoubtedly been a plus in Chicago.
The Bulls are 4-3 in games he’s played, and they’re plus-7.2 points per 100 possessions when he shares the floor with Zach LaVine, DeMar DeRozan and Nikola Vučević.
That impact isn’t the product of Beverley’s per-game averages of 4.4 points and 4.0 assists, at least not entirely. His aggression on defense and willingness to play off the ball in a lineup with ball-dominant wings are the immeasurables that could be giving Chicago this rhythm.
With a month left to play and that rhythm setting in, the Bulls are only one game back of the Washington Wizards for the final spot in the East’s play-in tournament.