Billy Donovan Admits Bulls’ ‘Need’ as Trade Deadline Approaches

Billy Donovan, Chicago Bulls

Getty Head coach Billy Donovan of the Chicago Bulls.

Chicago Bulls head coach Billy Donovan was direct about what this team needs.

Sitting at 22-26 and clinging to the nine-seed in the Eastern Conference standings, they have a clear need, specifically in the frontcourt. The trade deadline is on February 8. They are running out of time to address the issue.

For Donovan, it’s just the reality of the situation. Injuries continue to impact the Bulls in multiple ways ahead of the deadline.

In addition to Zach LaVine, the Bulls are also missing Torrey Craig and Patrick Williams.

“The hard part for us, quite honestly, is the fact that we’ve had injuries to some guys,” Donovan said, per The Athletic’s Darnell Mayberry on January 31. “You could sit there and say, ‘Yeah, with Patrick out and Torrey being out, it’d be nice right now to have a bigger forward. We need a forward.’ … That would be something you’d want to do. But it’s injuries.”

Williams was the most recent addition with a foot injury that requires rest for the next two weeks before re-evaluation. But second-year wing Dalen Terry joined the group. He exited the Bulls’ 118-107 loss to the Toronto Raptors on January 30 with an ankle injury.

Neither Craig nor Terry figured to draw much interest in the trade market on their own. That is if there is even any interest in moving them, especially the latter.

The Bulls have held on to Williams through worse and have shown little signs of that changing.

Bulls Not Expected to Swing ‘Major’ Trade

“With a week remaining before the NBA’s trade deadline, few within or around the Chicago Bulls organization anticipate the franchise making a major move,” Mayberry wrote.

“If the Bulls swing a deal before the Feb. 8 deadline, most will be surprised. It’s not that the Bulls can’t make a trade, but there’s a prevailing belief that the front office won’t commit to something substantial.”

The injuries will likely play a part in that.

However, Mayberry points to the Bulls’ history of “sticking with the status quo” over the last two seasons as reason a trade is unlikely.

“The Bulls are clinging to — and perhaps overvaluing — their most attractive asset (Alex Caruso), drawing little to no interest in their most talented and highest-paid player (Zach LaVine) and might be stuck paying pricey, aging veterans (DeMar DeRozan and Nikola Vučević),” Mayberry wrote.

Bulls May Need to Adjust Objective

The Bulls wanted to move LaVine before the deadline to better assess the rest of the roster. There were also rumors of a potential trade with the Detroit Pistons for Bojan Bogdanovic, who fits what Donovan described.

But the Bulls’ front office was also not looking to move LaVine simply for the sake of ridding themselves of his contract.

He has three years and nearly $140 million remaining on a five-year, $215 million contract.

If the Bulls want to bolster their chances of making a playoff push before the deadline, adjusting their stances could help. The Bulls don’t want to move LaVine for pennies on the dollar. But maybe they can be persuaded to trade one of their many other guards for a bigger forward.

In the meantime, they will continue to lean on rookie second-round pick Julian Phillips. He is averaging 10.0 points and shooting 50% from deep over the last two games.