We're officially days away from the NBA trade deadline. To this point the Chicago Bulls have been involved in a few rumors involving Andrea Bargnani and JJ Redick, but nothing has been imminent. In honor of the trade deadline, one of the wildest times of the NBA season, we here at Bulls 101 figured we would weigh in on a few trade deadline questions:
1. What position do you think the Chicago Bulls need to improve through trade and why?
Another big man off the bench. In the preseason I predicted that lack of depth down low would eventually haunt the Bulls especially when the injury bug left it's mark. Unfortunately this came to fruition. If the Bulls could find and successfully trade for some big man, preferably one who can shoot a midrange jumper with some consistency so Taj can go to work in the post, quite a few problems would be solved. Noah's minutes load would go down, he could rest up his injured foot, and Chicago would have more rotation options.
The point guard position, for obvious reasons.
If there’s anything the Bulls need right now more than ever, it’s another big. With Joakim ailing and very likely to have nagging injuries down the stretch and into the playoffs, it’s going to be important that the Bulls find another serviceable veteran big man, preferably one that can fill in for Noah during the season while also providing key minutes off the bench during the playoffs since it’s pretty clear Mohammed isn’t that guy.
They need to try to acquire a competent backup center. Nazr Mohammed has really been bad and Radmanovic has the size, but he likes to hangout on the perimeter. With Noah and Boozer banged up, the lack of size could come back to bite them. Also, you can never have to many shooters. The Bulls are bottom five in the league in 3-point shooting and could really help cure their offensive woes by adding some floor spacers.
The Bulls have had their big man rotation exposed several times this season, either thanks to injury, poor performance or foul trouble. Joakim Noah, Carlos Boozer and Taj Gibson have been consistent, but after the first three, the Bulls backcourt is pretty thin. When Noah and Boozer went down injured, Nazr Mohammed still didn't see an increase in playing time with Luol Deng sliding over to power forward as the Bulls went almost exclusively small. Vladimir Radmanovic has practically fallen out of the rotation, leaving the Bulls forced to extend the already heavy minutes load on their core backcourt guys. They desperately need some sort of cover behind that core trio that is better than Mohammed, whose time in the league is pretty much over if he can't even crack a rotation despite being the sole healthy center in uniform.
2. Do you see Chicago doing a trade before the deadline? If so, what?
The only trade I envision actually happening at this point is Rip Hamilton being dumped for nothing. Rumors are that the Magic are asking for too much for Redick and Toronto is hesitant to take on Boozer's contract for Bargnani. Eliminating those two trades doesn't leave the possibility for much else.
The only deals that seem even remotely possible are the Boozer/Bargs trade and the eventual Rip salary dump.
I’m going to lean towards yes. I’ve never heard so many rumors leaking from the Bulls front office during the trade season. Usually it’s quiet even when things are brewing internally. Top it off with the recent developments in the ongoing Rose return drama, I smell a shakeup coming. Likely Boozer or Rip are getting shipped out in order to save money, but the story will probably be sold as the Bulls not believing they could win with this core.
I just don't think they have the pieces to make any trades this season. They are handcuffed by the payroll and any move they made would most likely need to cut salary or be for players with equal salaries. The front office seems to believe this team can compete this year and won't make salary cutting moves to jeopardize their chances. Lastly, no one is taking on Boozer's contract, and he seems to be the most movable piece from Chicago's perspective. Rumors will surface but I expect the tradeline to come and go quietly.
While the Bulls need to address their lack of backcourt depth, there should be a player capable of giving the Bulls some relief available as a sweetener in another, more likely deal: one that trims some salary from the books. Rip Hamilton is reportedly coveted by the Phoenix Suns and he is the player most likely to be traded. His contract, although not technically expiring, can be bought out after this season by whoever trades for him, taking his salary off the books. Perhaps a trade that can land the Bulls a pair of competent players: a replacement wing and that important rotational big man. One such trade could be had with the Bulls receiving Shannon Brown/Jared Dudley and Jermaine O'Neal for Rip Hamilton (using the Korver trade exception to effectively cut salary). The mooted Boozer-Robinson for Bargnani-John Lucas III trade with Toronto can be argued, but ultimately shouldn't happen. As bad as Boozer has been, I'd happily take him over Bargnani and swapping Robinson for JL3 seems like neither beneficial nor detrimental.
3. If you could make a trade for any player outside of the super obvious not going to happen players, who would you trade for and why?
Outside of JJ Redick, I would absolutely kill for Marcin Gortat. He's a great big man who knows how to score inside and outside of the paint, can rebound well, and, most importantly, can defend ridiculously well. And this would all be had on a very reasonable $7 million contract. Incorporating him into Chicago's roster would be a dream come true for just about everyone except Boozer who's minutes would be cut. There are some rumors that he's on the trade block (though they're nothing serious) and, according to this translated interview on Gothic Ginobli, he doesn't seem to be happy with what's happening in Phoenix. Potential trades in my mind go something along the lines of moving Hamilton, Mohammed, Radmonovic, and the Bobcats pick for him or Luol Deng for Gortat and Dudley. Unfortunately none of these will happen and I'll have to continue to fantasize.
I suppose I would want Kevin Love, even if there's no chance of that happening right now. Were he healthy, I would have to assume the Bulls would have a shot.
I’m going for Jared Dudley. Why? He’s an upgrade over what we have at the 2-guard position both offensively and defensively. He’s not a one way player like Jimmy or Marco and I find it hard to believe he can find a way to be worse than Rip. His numbers are pretty much even with Rip but I think he’d be a more reliable player going forward and can play the kind of hard nose styled defense Thibs would like from his rotation guys.
The sexy player seems to be J.J. Redick, but I don't see that happening. However, a similar player in Mike Dunleavy is possible. He only makes $3.75 million and his contract expires at the end of the year. He's a smart veteran that can shoot the three-ball really well. He could play the 3 or a small 4 with Jimmy Butler playing some at the 2 and 3. He could really add some production off the bench, and help the Bulls shed some salary at the end of the season to setup other potential moves. Unfortunately, the Bucks would require a lot in return for Dunleavy.
The one player I would most love to see on the team and who could just about be had is JJ Redick of the Orlando Magic, assuming he would be traded for on the assumption he resigns with the team this summer instead of being a rental. Redick brings the Bulls some serious range scoring and although he isn't the caliber of player who can transform a team into title contenders, he brings them closer to the Miami Heat and the top teams in the Western Conference. There are no players who can be traded for right now that do turn this Bulls team as constructed into a sure-fire challenger to the Eastern Conference supremacy currently enjoyed by the Heat.