One of the most respected sports sites in the industry, The Ringer, has released their newest installments of mock trades nearing the deadline. These typically adhere to what teams have said about their intentions, their asking prices, and their needs heading into the back half of the season. The Chicago Bulls were mentioned in this morning’s edition, and the proposed deal should excite the fans of the Windy City.
New Orleans Pelicans Receive: Alex Caruso, Andre Drummond
Chicago Bulls Receive: Jaxson Hayes, Kira Lewis Jr., 2024 First Round Selection (NOP)(Prot. Top-4), 2024 Second Round Selection (CHI)
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Giving up one of the league’s best perimeter defenders is the major hit for Chicago, while New Orleans sacrifices an undeveloped center and point guard who have each flashed potential, but nothing substantial or sustained in their respective young careers. This would also give the Bulls back some of the draft capital they’ve poured out in the past few years bringing in established talent like the two first-round selections they exchanged for Nikola Vucevic.
The Aftermath In Chicago
Alex Caruso has already floated around trade rumors and is expected to be gone following the February 9th deadline, so assessing the damage after he’s gone is almost a foregone conclusion. While on the floor for Chicago, the Bulls rank in the top-four in the NBA in defensive rating, and when he’s sidelined, they drop to bottom-four. Sounding the alarms may be the initial reaction, but many forget that rookie Dalen Terry awaits on the end of the bench and was originally drafted for his defensive abilities and extreme length and athleticism. He’s only played a grand total of 56 minutes in his rookie campaign despite being selected 18th overall in the first round, but this would require a major jump in consistency from someone who’s only flashed his explosiveness and effectiveness in the pros.
Andre Drummond’s future has seemingly already been decided too, with many saying if he’s not traded he’d be headed to the buyout market with the lack of effectiveness this season for the Bulls. His minutes have diminished over the course of the season, he fouls often, is not the same rim-protector he once was, and head coach Billy Donovan has admittedly found more success with Derrick Jones Jr. at the center position running ‘small-ball’.
The newcomers Jaxson Hayes and Kira Lewis Jr. would give Chicago added depth, youth, and explosiveness off the bench. At the ages of 22 and 21 respectively, this would re-tool the Bulls bench at the expense of established talent. They’d join 23-year-old Ayo Dosunmu, 21-year-old Patrick Williams, 22-year-old Coby White, and 20-year-old Dalen Terry and make for one of the youngest rosters in the NBA alongside the big three of DeMar DeRozan, Zach Lavine, and Nikola Vucevic. Hayes has a career 62% field goal percentage, decent rim-protection skills, and great pick and roll potential. Lewis Jr. hasn’t yet blossomed on the NBA stage, but did drop 25 or more points eight times in his last season in college, and was touted a “projected above-average NBA shooter” in his draft profile.
Assuming there’s no comparable deals on the table for either of these Bulls’ bench players, they should pull the trigger on this deal. Given the youth and potential of the two they’d be acquiring, it’s worth the expense of two veteran guys who will help New Orleans make a championship push.
Given that Chicago is seeking two first round picks for Caruso, and this deal includes two top-13 picks in the last few drafts plus a third first round selection, that alone justifies the trade. Drummond for a second-round pick considering he does not see the floor is also better than cutting him, which is likely his fate if no trade agreement is reached in the next ten days. The potential scoring ability of Lewis Jr. coupled with the impressive versatility of Hayes would revamp an aging Bulls’ bench unit into one built for the future. This would also double as partially an insurance policy, considering there’s serious potential that both Vucevic and DeRozan are headed out the door this offseason.