Insider Sheds Light on Bulls’ Interest in $206M Star

Russell Westbrook, Chicago Bulls

Getty Russell Westbrook #0 of the Los Angeles Lakers sits on the bench.

Does the saying “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure” work in reverse? That is seemingly where the Chicago Bulls (11-14) are with regard to what some consider the most valuable trade assets in the league – the Los Angeles Lakers’ 2027 and 2029 first-round draft picks.

L.A. has gone all-in with the Anthony Davis-LeBron James core leaving them with a finite timeline.

One or both of those picks should fall outside of that timeline and could be very high.

It’s why we have heard of some lofty names attached to the Lakers in trade scenarios were they to move one or both in a deal. But we might need to cross the Bulls off the list of potentially interested parties if taking a new report — which puts the Bulls on the outside of the NBA consensus — at face value.

Who Wants Westbrook?

A previous report from Zach Lowe on “The Lowe Post” podcast stated that the Lakers had “100%” held talks regarding trading for Bulls stars DeMar DeRozan, a California native, and Nikola Vucevic who was DeRozan’s teammate in college at USC.

The deal would presumably send Russell Westbrook along with those two first-round picks back to Chicago.

There is a significant roadblock to that line of thinking, though.

“While the Lakers might be looking to make a big trade and have their eyes on the Bulls’ roster, the feeling isn’t mutual,” writes Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times. “Executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas has no interest in acquiring Russell Westbrook and his expiring contract, even if it means adding draft picks.”

Lowe said the Lakers’ discussions were simply cursory while HoopsHype’s Michael Scotto reports that there is a growing expectation the Lakers hold off on dealing Westbrook who has been productive in a bench role.

Still, his $47.1 million expiring contract has become more valuable than the player for teams looking to clear cap space and acquire draft capital to do it.

Those teams are generally rebuilding, though, and the Bulls are not there just yet.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reported that the Lakers are holding onto those picks unless they can get an “All-Star level” player which DeRozan would qualify. This, along with a report from Fox Sports’ NBA insider Ric Bucher stating DeRozan was off-limits suggests that the Lakers will have to look elsewhere to satisfy their search for an All-Star.

Cowley does add that things could change by the February 9 trade deadline.

Odd Man Out

Bucher’s report also named Zach LaVine as “off-limits” in trade talks, something Wojnarowski confirmed to be the case for the time being. But the Bulls are still a popular choice to make a move to try to balance out the roster.

A recent suggestion from Blog-A-Bull’s Alex Kirschenbaum would see them swap Vucevic for Ivica Zubac of the Los Angeles Clippers.

But we have seen scenarios involving bench maven Alex Caruso too.

The Bulls are holding out hope that they will get Lonzo Ball back at some point before deciding on the ultimate fate of this group. But that doesn’t mean they won’t need to tweak it to get to where they want to go. It just sounds as though they still plan on Derozan being an integral part of their plans for the foreseeable future.