CHICAGO — When was the last time you heard the Chicago Bulls expressing interest in a top-10 player in the NBA? The new era of Bulls basketball is officially underway and that’s exciting.
“This is not a rebuild, this is a retool,” Bulls Vice President of Basketball Operations said back in October of 2020.
Well, adding a former league MVP, who is one of two players in NBA history to average a triple-double in the regular season would certainly accelerate the process to win-now mode.
Don’t be surprised if the Chicago Bulls make a big run at trading for Westbrook – hearing they have serious interest.
— Ross 🏀 (@LegionHoopsRoss) November 12, 2020
Does This Move Make Sense?
There is no question that Russell Westbrook is one of the greatest point guards in the NBA today and one of the best point guards in league history. The Bulls are certainly in the market for a playmaking point-guard that can be the floor general night-in and night-out.
That being said, does he fit this team’s timeline? Better question, what exactly is this team’s timeline? Because adding Westbrook changes expectations instantly.
The Bulls are one of the youngest teams in the league, and the majority of their core players are 25 or under.
- Zach LaVine – 25
- Coby White – 20
- Wendell Carter Jr. – 21
- Lauri Markkanen – 23
- Daniel Gafford – 22
Russell Westbrook is still a top player, but is 32-years-old and may not make sense for this team. But if you can acquire him for the right price, while also setting your sights on another big-name free agent to pair with Zach LaVine you go for it.
What Will Westbrook Cost Chicago?
If the Bulls pull the trigger on a Westbrook trade, it will have to involve one of the team’s bigger contracts including Thomas Satoransky, Otto Porter Jr., or LaVine due to salary cap reasons.
According to Basketball-Reference, the Bulls payroll
According to Sportrac, he has three years remaining on the mega-deal that owes him $41, $44, and $47 million over the next three seasons. This is a major gamble, especially if next season the front office realizes this wasn’t a good fit.
Another thing to keep in mind is that the Houston Rockets are not entering a rebuild. They just hired Stephen Silas as their new head coach, and they also have this guy named James Harden in his prime, who is capable of carrying any team to a postseason.
In a perfect world, you could hold onto both LaVine and White while potentially moving Markkanen, Porter Jr., and the fourth overall pick.
That may still not be enough, but Westbrook has said he wants to be traded.
Reportedly, he told The Athletic’s Kelly Iko, Sam Amick, and Shams Charania that he wants to join a team to be the “floor general.”
With Harden around, he’ll never be the number one guy.
The Billy Donovan Connection
Billy Donovan coached Russell Westbrook in Oklahoma City for four seasons, up until he was traded to Houston.
Donovan choosing to coach in Chicago over other open markets always meant that the organization had promised him quick results, otherwise he would have been better off staying in OKC.
Pairing LaVine and Westbrook is a start, but another player will be needed to put them into contention with the powerhouse teams of the east.
It’s very possible that the two would like to reunite, but that’s pure speculation.