Proposed 3-Team Trade Sees Bulls Land Former Top-5 Draft Pick

Arturas Karnisovas, Billy Donovan, Chicago Bulls

Getty Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations Arturas Karnisovas of the Chicago Bulls and head coach Billy Donovan.

The Chicago Bulls’ players and coaches are surely focused on the stretch run of this season with just 13 games to go until the Play-In Tournament. But the front office has been assessing its options — including a potential Zach LaVine trade — for some time.

They have touted their ability to get creative in the past, and they put it on display in assembling this roster in 2021.

Now, Bleacher Report’s Eric Pincus has a hypothetical trade that aims to bolster the core.

“Many competing executives believe the Bulls should rebuild. Chicago, however, doesn’t seem to agree,” Pincus wrote on March 22. “With that in mind, how can the team improve on what has been neither an overwhelming nor underwhelming season?”

Bulls get:

De’Andre Hunter (via Hawks)
Sidy Cissoko (via Spurs)
– $6.5M trade exception (Jevon Carter)

Hawks get:

Tre Jones (via Spurs)
Devonte’ Graham (via Spurs)
Lonzo Ball (via Bulls)
– 2024 first-round pick (via Spurs)
– 2025 first-round pick (own via Spurs)
– 2025 first-round pick (via Hornets)
– 2026 relinquished swap rights (via Spurs)
– 2027 first-round pick (own via Spurs)
– $21.7 million trade exception (D’Andre Hunter)
– $21.6 million trade exception (Trae Young)

Spurs get:

– Trae Young
– Jevon Carter
– 2024 first-round pick (via Kings)

Bulls Could Benefit in 3-Team Blockbuster Trade

There’s a lot to unpack for a deal that focuses on sending Young to the Spurs. Action Network’s Matt Moore reported on January 10 that Young would be amenable to a trade to San Antonio.

It gives the Hawks control of a rebuild, sending back picks they gave up for Dejounte Murray.

For the Bulls, it is a bit more complicated, though, starting with Hunter. The former No. 4 overall pick of the 2019 draft by the Los Angeles Lakers, they traded him – along with Ball – in a package to the New Orleans Pelicans for Anthony Davis that year.

New Orleans sent him to Atlanta where he has established himself as the team’s top perimeter defender and a potent scorer, both as a starter and coming off the bench.

Hunter is in the first year of a four-year, $90 million contract. Still, the Hawks forward was on the trade block this past offseason and ahead of the trade deadline this year. He also has a history of knee injuries. That could be a sign the Hawks are ready to move on.

Cissoko is a 6-foot-8 rookie second-round pick with six games of NBA experience.

Optimisim Growing Lonzo Ball Can Return in 2024-25

Ball has not played since January of the 2021-22 season. A knee injury that was supposed to keep him out for fewer than two months will have kept him out for more than two seasons by the end of this year.

There is some optimism that he can make his way back for next season after making marked progress in recent weeks, per NBC Sports Chicago’s K.C. Johnson.

However, Johnson also cautioned fans to temper optimism at least until Ball begins 5-on-5 work.

“There is growing buzz he’ll at least try to attempt to play next season,” Johnson wrote on March 21. “None of the current optimism matters much until he can endure contact and 5-on-5 situations.”

Still, that optimism could be enough to entice a team to take on the final year of Ball’s four-year, $80 million contract, assuming he picks up his player option. That is a $21.4 million investment.

Carter signed a three-year, $19.5 million pact in free agency but has had an inconsistent role.

Pincus argues this hypothetical trade gets the Bulls from under Ball’s contract and lessens the pressure to overpay for Patrick Williams, who is out for the season after foot surgery. But they want to keep both players anyway, which could render the idea moot.