Massive Three-Team Trade Could Revamp Bulls Roster

Getty Zach LaVine and Chris Paul

Would the Chicago Bulls be foolish to part with Zach LaVine and to take on Chris Paul’s massive contract? We’ll examine a potentially mammoth deal that would remake Chicago’s roster.

We’ve talked before about a proposed deal that would have the Bulls sending Otto Porter and his massive deal to the Oklahoma City Thunder for Paul and his even more intimidating contract. There were other pieces included to make it work from a financial standpoint, but there is an even grander concept to discuss that builds on that concept.

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The Trade

Here is a look at the trade as detailed by ChiBullsCity on Instagram.

It’s a humongous eight-player, three-team deal that also includes two first-round picks.

It Works From a Financial Standpoint

As you can see from the screenshot that came from ESPN’s popular trade machine, the deal works from a financial standpoint. Now, the question is, does it make sense for each team?

The Thunder’s Motivation

The Paul contract is one of the worst in the NBA.

While he was productive (17.6 points, 6 assists, and five rebounds per game) and helped lead the Thunder into the NBA’s restart last season, he is 35 years old and making upwards of 38.5 million next season, and that total continues to balloon over the final two years of his deal.

The Thunder would probably love to get away from that contract, and they’d also likely enjoy taking in some assets for a rebuild in the process. They would have to take on Otto Porter Jr’s deal to make the trade work financially, but he’s doesn’t make quite as much and comes off the books a year earlier. The other two players from the Bulls, Tomas Satoransky and Ryan Arcidiacono aren’t stellar performers, but they are relatively inexpensive throw-ins to get the deal done. The main prize of this whole thing for the Thunder, aside from dumping Paul’s contract is adding a first-round pick.

It wouldn’t come until 2021, and if the Bulls improve as expected, it figures to be in the 20s. However, it’s not a bad situation considering the Thunder could try to package Porter Jr. as an expiring during the 2022-23 season when he’s set to come off the books.

The Nuggets’ Motivation

The Thunder are arguably giving up the most if you project Michael Porter Jr. as a future star. The fact is, he has only shown flashes of positivity, and he still has a very troubling injury history. Still, if he develops, he’s a significant piece.

Any first-round pick is noteworthy, even one at No. 22, which is where the Nuggets are set to select in this year’s draft.

That said, the Nuggets would be adding a legitimate 25-point-per-game scorer in LaVine who is still as athletic as any wing player in the NBA. Pairing him with Jamal Murray might be giving Denver the most high-powered backcourt in the NBA.

Ferguson is a throw-in, but his length, athleticism, and three-point shooting potential make for an intriguing package especially amongst so many other long and similar types on the Nuggets’ roster.

Denver was close to being a serious contender in the Bubble. They would be parting with a late first-rounder, Gary Harris Jr., and MPJ, but you could argue LaVine’s presence on a team that was already strong makes it worth the deal.

The Bulls’ Motivation

Chicago is giving up its star and a ton of players in sheer volume. It’s a risk whenever you part ways with a guy as hard-working and productive as LaVine. However, this deal could be worth it for Chicago in a number of ways.

Much of it comes down to how much the Bulls’ brass would believe in MPJ. If they think he’s a potential star small forward who can stay healthy, this is a no-brainer. You could effectively pencil him in at the three for as many years as you can retain him and the kid has 20-plus-point-per-game potential, and he’s not afraid of the moment.

The Bulls would be adding a proven, but a less-than-spectacular veteran in Harris who can instantly give Chicago quality minutes. Paul walks in as the starter at point guard as he follows his last head coach Billy Donovan to the Windy City.

Paul would mentor Coby White whom he already has a long-standing relationship, and perhaps one other player. The Bulls get to hang on to their No. 4 pick in this scenario, and with it, they could draft Killian Hayes.

Yes, he’s another point guard, but he’s a bit more natural at the position. Like White, he’d get an opportunity to learn from Paul while also getting solid minutes. White can play either guard spot and all of them stand to benefit from Paul’s presence on and off the court.

Yes, the Bulls would be giving up a first-rounder in 2021, but it seems worth it in this scenario. If the Bulls are fortunate, they might have a shot at drafting three-point specialist Saadiq Bey out of Villanova with the pick they get from Denver.

This rotation says the Bulls can compete in 2020-21 and contend over the long haul.

PG – Paul

SG – Harris or White

SF – Michael Porter Jr.

PF – Lauri Markkanen

C – Wendell Carter Jr.

6th – Hayes

7th – Harris or White

8th – Bey

9th – Gafford

10th – Thaddeus Young

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