Tuesday, March 21, 2023

The Bulls Will Need To Make Some Moves This Offseason And It Starts At The Center Position


The Bulls have 9 games remaining on their schedule. The team has a 41-31 record and will likely find themselves in the playoffs. They likely won’t have a long playoff run based on the team’s recent performance. This has a lot of people around the league wondering what needs to be done in the offseason to make the Bulls a title contender. There were flashes of what this team can be and at times it felt like they could be a legit contender.

Now with the regular season coming to a close no one is quite sure who this team can be. Yes, they’ve had a lot of injuries and that should be a factor. At the same time, there’s been a couple of spots on the team where it’s clear the Bulls need a change. The most notable spot is the center position. After making a blockbuster trade last season for center Nikola Vucevic the Bulls thought they were going to be good at the center position for a long time. Unfortunately, that hasn’t been the case and many are left wondering, what next?

The main issue with the Bulls is on the defensive side of the ball. When you have scorers like guard Zach LaVine and forward DeMar DeRozan you need other pieces that can be defensive anchors. Vucevic isn’t that. His defense at the rim and on pick-and-rolls is subpar at best. Opposing teams know this and that’s why teams run the pick-and-roll 22% of the time when playing the Bulls. That’s the fourth-highest percentage in the league. Vucevic struggling offensively also hurts his image in Chicago. His numbers are still good but when you’ve seen him do better it’s hard to wonder what this team could be if he could play some defense. However, if the Bulls are going to move on from Vuc who should they be looking at?

Who could be the next center in Chicago?

Obviously, the Bulls will be looking at the trade market since Vucevic is under contract next season. Which opens them up to almost every center in the league. One name that should be on top of the Bulls list is Jazz center Rudy Gobert. There are a couple of reasons for this. First Gobert has had issues with teammate Donovan Mitchell. If the team finds themselves having a short playoff run then they would likely be willing to move one of those two. If the Bulls are the first to reach out they could potentially make a splash. 

The second reason is Gobert fits exactly what this team needs. He’s a defensive beast and has been defensive player of the year three times. Gobert is everything this Bulls team would need to be a contender. Sure the makeup of the team would be different to make this trade work. But the core of DeRozan, LaVine, and Gobert would be a championship contender. Now the question is what would it take to get Gobert if he’s available?

The Bulls have what it takes to get Gobert

It would certainly take a bit to get Gobert considering he’s under contract for the next 4 years. But if the Bulls are serious about wanting Gobert they have the firepower to go after him. The trade would include Vucevic. To make the deal work the Bulls would need to throw in someone like guard Coby White and an additional player. I’m not sure who that player would be but a three-for-one-player swap could work. The Jazz may be looking for a draft pick as well but if the Bulls are serious they could make it happen. Either way, if the Bulls are serious about upgrading the center position in the offseason they should be calling the Utah Jazz as soon as they can. 

Center should be priority #1

There are a few holes on this roster but overall it has been pretty good this year. The injuries really hurt this team and didn’t let anyone see who they could be. But Vucevic has played in 65 games and has shown what he can be. Don’t get me wrong, Vucevic is a good player. If this team was built differently he wouldn’t even be a consideration to move on from. But with a team that needs defense, he just doesn’t fit. That’s why the Bulls will need to look at upgrading the center position. A defensive-minded center could change the identity of this team and in their current state, this team won’t be making a deep playoff run. Rudy Gobert should be the team’s number one target in the offseason. If not Gobert then start looking elsewhere like Minnesota or Memphis. There are good defensive-minded centers out there and the Bulls should be looking for one. 

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