The Chicago Bulls were one of just two teams in the entire NBA not to make a single transaction before the trade deadline. The second was the Cleveland Cavaliers, the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference, which just dealt a haul to Utah for the superstar Donovan Mitchell this last offseason and are firing on all cylinders. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Chicago sits ninth in the Eastern Conference, is led by a 33-year-old DeMar DeRozan, playing the best basketball of his career, and has a pending unrestricted free agent in Nikola Vucevic this summer.
In a shocking couple-hour span leading to the 2:00 PM CST trade deadline, they’ve decided to continue forward with the exact same roster that brought them to the 26-28 record they currently hold. On the Trade Deadline Special held by ESPN, Zach Lowe described Chicago’s future as “murky” with several open wounds and storylines that will come back to bite should this season end in the same miserable fashion it has begun.
As surprising as it is that the Bulls made no moves before the trade deadline, a report regarding their rumored activity two days ago was right on the money from Bulls’ insider KC Johnson.
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If taken literally, this report would have simmered Chicago fans’ hopes headed into the deadline, and no moves would have been expected, but that was not the case around the team. Many fans and media members believed that a team finding themselves in the play-in scenario and under .500 would have a little more urgency to shake things up in the locker room. Especially considering the Bulls were in a similar spot a few seasons ago and made the splash move of bringing in two-time all-star center Nikola Vucevic to make a late-season push, that would eventually fall just short.
While rumors swirled about Andre Drummond and Alex Caruso, among others, amid over 40 trades done today, one would have thought those two would be on the move as well. Nevertheless, the same group that sits two games below the .500 mark through 54 games will be responsible for coming up from the depths of the Eastern Conference standings into the playoffs and eventually battling for contention.
Failed Their Two Goals
Two of the four players above were dealt in the last 48 hours, but none surrounded the Bulls. It’s hard to imagine that AK and the front office could not have thrown a similar package together for Bones Hyland and that none of the several suitors who chased the center position today were willing to offer anything substantial for Drummond, who’s played historically well off the bench in the last week for Chicago.
Seeing that neither of these was accomplished, it’ll be interesting to see who takes the fall if things don’t go according to plan in the Windy City as the 2022-23′ season wraps up. Remember, this past summer the leader in the front office had choice words regarding expectations for this season.
“Last year, the result, you know, we were not surprised we made the playoffs. A lot of people were surprised,” Karnišovas told reporters. “Nor should we be surprised to make the playoffs this year. But what we want to see is obviously improvement.”Arturas Karnisovas following 2021-22′ season
With Lonzo Ball seemingly out for the season, Billy Donovan and Zach LaVine receiving lucrative extensions before the year began, and franchise-altering decisions to be made with Vucevic and DeRozan’s contracts, this could be a make-or-break second half of the season for everyone top-to-bottom.
To The Buyout Market They Go
With great frustration, all there is to do now is look at candidates on the buyout market and how they would fit on the Bulls roster. Regarding their own departures, Drummond would be the only consideration for hitting the open market. Still, even he may have earned his roster spot with his 18-for-22, 43 points, and 31 rebounds in just 49 minutes of play off the bench in the three games before Tuesday’s lackluster effort in Memphis.
Turning to candidates to join Chicago on their uphill grudge for the next several months, the headliners are Russell Westbrook, John Wall, and Derrick Rose. All three would provide the playmaking from the point guard position that the Bulls have failed to supplement since Ball’s absence over a year ago.
Being the most talked about candidate, Westbrook would be a hit-or-miss for the Bulls. He brings a tenacity and energy that would ignite this team but also brings boatloads of baggage. A superstar past his prime, Westbrook still acts and plays like he’s the alpha on any team he joins and causes issues when things don’t go his way, as recently as two nights ago. He was shipped out the next day to Utah, where it’s widely expected that he’ll be bought out and sought after by borderline contending teams such as the Bulls, Heat, or Clippers.
It’s not all bad. He would lead Chicago in assists per game and has been an elite facilitator his entire career, but he would also lead the team in turnovers and is often knocked for his reckless play style. In the situation the Bulls find themselves in, this would be a high-risk, high-reward situation where he does solve most of their on-court problems but has notoriously brought more issues than he solves to most of the stops in his certainly unique career.
So Bulls Nation, what’s the gut reaction to Chicago remaining silent at the trade deadline??