5-Time All-Defensive Star has ‘Interest’ in Bulls Trade

Jrue Holiday, Chicago Bulls

Getty Jrue Holiday #21 of the Milwaukee Bucks.

The Chicago Bulls missed out on the Damian Lillard trade sweepstakes but could find a path to improvement with Jrue Holiday, now of the Portland Trail Blazers.

“Am told Heat, LA teams, Boston,Chi., Philly are teams of interest to Holiday,” posted Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald on September 28. “(Perhaps others, but those 6 in no order were mentioned to me). Beyond Portland distaste for Heat assets, Miami must reconcile this: Acquiring&giving big new deal next summer makes them tax team for yrs.”

Jackson estimates that Holiday, 33, could seek $30 million “or so” on a new contract. He is in the third year of a four-year, $134 million contract and has a $37.4 million player option for the 2024-25 season.

He is a champion and was named an All-Star and All-Defensive First-Team selection last season.

A two-time All-Star and five-time All-Defensive standout, there was a belief that he was contemplating retirement after the season, potentially adding to the inherent risk of surrendering assets for yet another aging player, albeit one still performing at a very high level.

Instead, it was a matter of wanting to retire with the Milwaukee Bucks who traded him to the Blazers as part of the Lillard trade.

The Bulls were active this offseason, re-signing both Ayo Dosunmu (three years, $21 million) and Coby White (three years, $36 million) to new contracts. They also brought in Holiday’s former teammate, Jevon Carter (three years, $19 million), who was coming off a career year in Milwaukee.

Chicago also has Holiday’s fellow 2022-23 All-Defensive Team member, Alex Caruso.

Holiday averaged 19.3 points, 7.4 assists, 5.1 rebounds, and 1.2 steals while knocking down 38.4% of his threes last season. That deep-ball efficiency came on a career-high 6.1 attempts for Holiday who is shooting 39.5% from beyond the arc over the last three seasons; a set of numbers that should appeal to the three-point-starved Bulls as much as his defense.

The Bulls continue to hold out hope that they will get Lonzo Ball back from a knee injury in 2024-25, though it is far from a certainty. Ball is heading into the final guaranteed year of a four-year, $80 million contract but has a $21.4 million player option for next season.

If Chicago decides they don’t believe he will be ready to play before needing a new contract, perhaps they apply to have his remaining salary wiped off their books.

They have already laid the groundwork with their previously granted exception.

Proposed Bulls Trade Lands Blazers’ Jrue Holiday

Chicago could try to take advantage of the previously owed first-round pick from the Blazers which is lottery-protected through the 2028 season. Portland is in the early stages of its rebuild with No. 2 overall pick Scoot Henderson taking over for Lillard and, thus, is not likely to make the playoffs in a stacked Western Conference anytime soon.

But, because they have those obligations to the Bulls, they are limited in how much of their draft capital they can use in the event they want to speed the rebuild up. Perhaps returning that pick including Ball’s salary, plus some lesser player or pick assets is enough to get a deal done.

Bulls get:

– Jrue Holiday

Blazers get:

– Lonzo Ball
Andre Drummond
– 2024 first-round pick (via POR)

To be clear, Drummond would not be the preferred additional asset in this deal as it leaves the Bulls woefully thin at center behind starter Nikola Vucevic.

Including deep reserve Terry Taylor instead, if possible, would be much more palatable.

But the Bulls would have to wait until December 15 to make it happen since Taylor re-signed this offseason. It’s not impossible or an uncommon practice, just not a given and Drummond can be traded immediately while potentially appealing to Portland more as a backup for Deandre Ayton whom they acquired in the Lillard trade.

Bulls & Blazers Have Been in Consistent Contact

Blazers general manager Joe Cronin said in February that he has been in contact with Bulls executive vice president of basketball operations Arutras Karnisovas in “every transaction window” about resolving his franchise’s debt and this could be another opportunity.

Chicago could solve its questions at point guard, improve what was a solid defense last season, and reunite Zach LaVine with one of his Olympic teammates.