Bulls ‘Inquired’ About $25 Million Former Top 10 Pick at Trade Deadline

Arturas Karnisovas, Billy Donovan, Chicago Bulls

Getty Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations Arturas Karnisovas of the Chicago Bulls.

Another year brought with it another quiet trade deadline for the Chicago Bulls. It came complete with assurances of the efforts made to add to the current core group.

Those efforts included pursuing a trade for Golden State Warriors forward Jonathan Kuminga.

“In exploratory trade talks with the Golden State Warriors centered on [Alex] Caruso, league sources said the Bulls inquired about Jonathan Kuminga’s availability,” NBC Sports Chicago’s K.C. Johnson wrote on February 8. “That was rebuffed.”

Kuminga, 21, was the No. 7 overall pick in 2020. That was the same draft that produced Bulls guard Ayo Dosunmu (No. 38 overall).

He is averaging career highs with 15.5 points and 4.6 rebounds, adding 1.8 assists per game.

In the third year of his four-year, $24.8 million contract, Kuminga found himself in trade rumors after complaining about his role under Warriors head coach Steve Kerr.

“After sitting for the final 18 minutes of Thursday night’s loss … Golden State Warriors forward Jonathan Kuminga has lost faith in coach Steve Kerr,” The Athletic’s Shams Charania and Anthony Slater wrote on January 5. “The 2021 lottery pick no longer believes Kerr will allow him to reach his full potential, sources close to Kuminga tell The Athletic.”

Kuminga averaged just over 22 minutes per game up to that point of the season.

He is averaging 32 minutes per game in 15 outings since then. He also notched 10 starts in that time after 12 total over the first 33 games of the season.

“As untouchable as guys can be in this league,” Warriors general manager Mike Dunleavy said of Kuminga’s trade prospect,” per Slater on February 8. “Didn’t see a scenario where Jonathan wouldn’t be on our team after this deadline.”

Bulls Sent Message Asking for Alex Caruso

While Kuminga would have injected youth and athleticism into the Bulls’ frontcourt, asking for him could have also been the Bulls’ way of sending a message.

Especially to a Warriors team that has shown an interest in Caruso since last season.

“The Bulls made clear in talks with all teams that they didn’t want to trade Caruso, especially for a package on perhaps other young pieces like Moses Moody,” Johnson wrote. “They’d need to be floored by an offer to do so.”

Head Coach Billy Donovan’s comments ahead of the Bulls’ eventual win over the Memphis Grizzlies on February 8 backed that up.

“I think Alex Caruso is one of the most valuable players in the NBA,” Donovan said, per the Chicago Tribune’s Julia Poe on February 8. “I think you need to get a haul for him. Those players like DeMar DeRozan, like Alex Caruso just don’t grow on trees.”

It’s hard to know what the Bulls planned to give up for Kuminga given how they’ve handled their players — Caruso specifically — and their draft picks over the last three years.

Bulls Want to Extend DeMar DeRozan

Bulls executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas said he wanted to re-sign DeRozan to a new contract.

DeRozan is in the final year of a three-year, $81.9 million contract.

“Yes, I love DeMar,” Karnisovas said in his post-deadline presser, per Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times. “He’s huge for this team, for the city, this organization. He’s been our closer. I think it’s wonderful for this team, and hopefully when the time comes, we have a chance to keep him.”

DeRozan is also open to returning, if “the money is right,” per Sam Amick of The Athletic on February 9.

DeRozan also wants a chance to win. The Bulls have gone 20-13 since a 5-14 start to the season. Perhaps that bolstered Karnisovas’ faith and DeRozan’s rumored resolve that money is the deciding factor.