ESPN.com’s “NBA Trade Machine” is surely going to be earning plenty of overtime in the coming weeks.
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Among the bevy of teams already rumored to have interest and/or viewed as a potential fit for the three-time All-Star are the Charlotte Hornets, Cleveland Cavaliers, and Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference, and the Golden State Warriors, Minnesota Timberwolves, Portland Trail Blazers, and Sacramento Kings out west. Can the Chicago Bulls be added to that ever-growing list?
How the Chicago Bulls Could Use Ben Simmons
In a post titled “1 Trade for Every NBA Team Not in the 2021 Finals”, Bleacher Report columnist Zach Buckley crafted 14 different moves – all two-team deals – for each of the 28 squads currently sitting at home during the NBA Finals. Buckley’s latest possible Simmons’ match is the Bulls.
While the Sixers could decide Ben Simmons’ stock fell too far to trade him now, his public playoff flop and the team’s reactions to it felt like a point of no return. They shouldn’t give him away for 25 cents on the dollar, obviously, but they could see value in converting him into multiple players who better fit their roster.
The Bulls should be ready to pounce if that happens.
With Team USA stud Zach LaVine already on the roster as the hopeful franchise cornerstone and the trade-deadline-acquired big man Nikola Vucevic attacking the glass and showing soft touch from outside, adding a defensive gem and solid playmaker like Simmons could give the Bulls one of the most underrated Big Threes in the NBA.
Their deadline deal for Nikola Vucevic showed a desire to win sooner than later, and if they’re planning to give Zach LaVine the max (or something close to it), they need to get his supporting cast up to speed. Simmons offers elite defensive versatility and a special combination of size and vision. His inability to shoot is a worry, but it could be less concerning in Chicago since Vooch maximizes the spacing as a stretch 5.
What the Sixers Would Get in Return
While LaVine and Vucevic would be the most attractive pieces on Chicago to acquire talent-wise, they still have other (slightly) younger commodities that could intrigue Philly. Here’s what Buckley thinks it could take for the Bulls to nab Simmons.
Sixers receive: Lauri Markkanen (sign-and-trade), Coby White, Tomas Satoransky and 2025 first-round pick (top-three protected)
With Markkanen in stow, that would give the Sixers a pair of 7-footers – joining Joel Embiid – in the frontcourt, both of whom can hit the three with ease. Markkanen is set to make a fairly-friendly $6.7 million next season and is just 24 years old, but both he and White have some injury concerns.
The big man from Finland has played four NBA seasons and posted over 13 points and five rebounds per game every year, but has also not played more than 52 games since his rookie season. Last year he also averaged career-lows in minutes (25.8), field goals made (4.9), free throws made (1.5), rebounds (5.3), and points (13.6) per game.
This trade only works if Philadelphia believes in Lauri Markkanen and Coby White, but that could definitely happen. Markkanen is a sweet-shooting 7-footer who has shown an ability to score in bunches, and White would answer Philly’s call for an off-the-dribble perimeter scorer. Throw in Tomas Satoransky as a ball-moving glue guy and a future first to spend in a separate swap, and the Sixers could bite.
While White is only 21, he is coming off of shoulder surgery performed in June and won’t be re-evaluated for another few months. This puts his status for the start of the 2021-2022 campaign very much in doubt.
Even if the Sixers were to be interested in a deal for Markkanen, White, Satoransky, and the future pick, would the Bulls? Some media members in Chi-Town have advised against it.