Bulls Insider Sounds Off on Trade Deadline Plans for DeRozan, Vucevic & LaVine

Zach LaVine Nikola Vucevic DeMar DeRozan

Getty Chicago Bulls stars Zach LaVine, DeMar DeRozan and Nikola Vucevic on the court during a game against the New Orleans Pelicans.

For the umpteenth time this season, the Chicago Bulls have managed to give the Windy City faithful some semblance of hope that their 2022-23 season can be salvaged amid inconsistent play and Lonzo Ball’s continuing injury saga.

Entering Tuesday night’s bout with the Memphis Grizzles, the Bulls had won three straight games and four of their last five (with the only loss being the near-miss against the LA Clippers). So, if they can somehow take the game at FedExForum, they’ll officially be on a season-long winning streak.

Given the club’s recent reversal of fortunes, one can’t help but wonder whether Chicago may have altered its plans heading into the NBA‘s deal-making deadline on Thursday.

Alas, NBC Sports Chicago’s KC Johnson just poured a lot of cold water on the notion that we’ll be seeing any deadline fireworks from Bulls architects Arturas Karnisovas and Marc Eversley.

KC Johnson: Bulls Don’t Have Designs on Moving DeMar DeRozan, Nikola Vucevic or Zach LaVine

Johnson made on appearance on 670 AM The Score‘s Mully & Haugh on Tuesday morning to talk Bulls basketball. And when he was asked about the possibility that recent successes could inform Karnisovas’ thought process with the roster, Johnson pushed back on the notion.

“My impression is that that’s not how they operate. I don’t think they’re that waffling or that on the fence…” Johnson said. “When I talk to other teams, the impression [those teams have gotten] is the Bulls are gonna pretty much keep what they’ve got. That that’s what they’ve been telling teams.”

And, just like that, a lot of air was let out of the balloon. At the same time, though, Johnson acknowledged that there’s always a “never say never” aspect to the trade deadline.

“[If another team comes] with a ridiculous offer, you’re not doing your job if you don’t consider it. But the impression from other teams is the Bulls are going to stand pat, or at least — I shouldn’t say stand pat — but at least not move off any of their big pieces,” Johnson opined.

“I don’t think a small sample size or a small, three-game win streak should change philosophy. Obviously, a big offer could change that thinking, but that’s the premise I’m working under as we move toward the trade deadline.”

That would seem to indicate that DeMar DeRozan, Nikola Vucevic and Zach LaVine will all be staying put. Never mind the fact that the aging DeRozan’s trade value may never be this high again or that Vucevic is likely heading for unrestricted free agency this summer or even that LaVine’s knees are probably as much of a concern as Ball’s at this point.

Also: those players have a net rating of just 0.2 when the three of them share the court this season.

Bulls Have Big-Time Trade Constraints

One thing preventing Chicago from making a radical shift is that there are some real barriers to doing so as a result of the team’s current construction.

Said Johnson: “The other thing to consider when you look at the Bulls roster is they really do not have a lot of trade capital. Unless you’re getting involved in a big move, where you move one of those big three, they don’t have a lot of those mid-priced contracts for matching salaries.”

Coby White may be an exception to that reality, and it’s not difficult to envision some team taking a flier on him as a former No. 7 overall pick. He’s peaking at the right time, too — during the current win streak, White is averaging 14 points, nearly three assists and one steal while shooting 57.7% from the floor and 50% from three-point range.

As Johnson puts it, though, White has “value within the locker room and within the organization” that may make him difficult to part with. So, the Bulls remain caught between a rock and a hard place.

“They basically have a lot of big salaries and a lot of minimum salaries. And they don’t, obviously, have a lot of draft picks. So, finding a trade partner is not impossible, but it makes it a little bit more difficult unless you’re getting involved in one of those big moves.”

Still, the Bulls insider did note that White’s name is out there in the trade chatter, as is Andre Drummond’s. He further reported that teams are “still calling” on Alex Caruso, too.

Read More