Rising Star Heading For New Deal Floated as Priority Bulls Trade Target

Zach LaVine, Chicago Bulls

Getty Zach LaVine #8 of the Chicago Bulls.

This coming offseason figures to bring some level of change for the Chicago Bulls but just how much is up for debate.

Who or better yet what they need to target is less of a matter of opinion than observation.

“Think of the player the Bulls hope Patrick Williams might one day become: a big-wing stopper who can find scoring chances within the flow of the offense or sometimes take over the attack,” explains Zach Buckley of Bleacher Report. “That description fits [Toronto Raptors swingman] OG Anunoby like a pair of skinny jeans. And since the 25-year-old has a chance to enter free agency in 2024, it’s possible the Raptors will field offers for him this summer.”

Anunoby – the former 23rd overall pick in 2017 – is coming off his fourth straight season averaging double figures with 16.8 points on 58.6% true shooting and 38.7% from three-point range adding 5.0 rebounds, 2.0 assists, and a league-leading 1.9 steals per game.

The 24-year-old versatile forward/guard stands 6-foot-7 is listed at 232 pounds and slotted in at shooting guard often this past season.

He will be in the final year of his contract next season with Toronto potentially set to pivot.

OG Anunoby Sounds Off on Future With Raptors

“They haven’t came to me of anything, and if they did I’ll talk to them,” Anunoby told the gaggle of reporters during his end-of-season media availability on the Raptors’ official YouTube channel on April 13. “I love Toronto, I love my teammates, I love the staff. So, yeah, I’ll definitely talk to them.”

That’s not a resounding endorsement of what was a trying season for Toronto, the 2019 NBA champions.

But even if Anunoby is not long for Toronto, he still might not be destined to be a Bull.

Chicago is quite limited in trade assets both in players and draft capital meaning a bidding war would likely take the Bulls out of the running for such a highly-coveted player even if there are some who aren’t completely sold on his value on the court and likely on the trade market.

“If Toronto is open to overtures, Chicago should immediately pounce. This roster makes a lot more sense with a two-way wing tying things together,” argues Buckley. “What’s better is that Anunoby is still young enough that he’d make sense for the Bulls even if they decide to move on without [Nikola] Vučević and [DeMar] DeRozan. Slot Anunoby alongside [Zach] LaVine, [Patrick] Williams and a hopefully healthy [Lonzo] Ball at some point, and the Bulls would be in business.”

A Mutual Respect For His Most-Likely Fellow Tradee

Anunoby has been effusive in his praise for DeRozan, his teammate during the former’s rookie season in 2017-18.

“DeMar was real nice to me,” Anunoby said of his former teammate ahead of their next duel, per Josh Lewenberg of The Sports Network on April 10. “He was a good guy. He’s still a great friend of mine. Just a great teammate. We all looked up to him and he did a good job teaching us.”

DeRozan likewise speaks very highly of his former fellow Raptor, albeit with his typical wit.

Ironically, DeRozan could be the Bulls’ best path to landing Anunoby without giving up LaVine or Williams as Buckley suggests. He is still effective but is heading into the final year of his Bulls contract going into his age-33 season and Toronto’s offense got worse as the season wore on.

Would a return of the one-time face of the franchise and whatever the Bulls can muster for draft considerations do the trick? Maybe the Bulls throw in a sign-and-trade with Coby White or throw in little-used 2022 first-round pick Dalen Terry, though that would almost be counterintuitive for a team with few blue-chip prospects coming through the ranks.