After a failed pairing with former head coach Jim Boylen, the Chicago Bulls have made great strides under new management.
Billy Donovan has pushed many Bulls to the next level. Zach LaVine has taken another step forward, the biggest step yet in his career. Lauri Markkanen, after two so-so seasons and a rough start to the 2020-21 season, has bounced back and shown glimpses of the player he looked like he could become during an outstanding rookie year. Coby White has consistently excited both the team and fans alike, as a full-time starter in his sophomore season.
But the promise hasn’t been limited to just those three; Otto Porter Jr. has started to show why the Bulls acquired him in the first place, while Daniel Gafford has shown to be a difference-making rim-runner and defensive force down low. Going forward, there’s certainly plenty to be excited about in Chicago.
But, with that said, the team as constructed isn’t in the position to even think about a playoff run. While a back-end Eastern Conference appearance is certainly within the realm of possibility, it’s not exactly a guarantee. And, at 9-13, the team should keep that in mind when they decide to buy or sell at this year’s trade deadline.
Not only do the Bulls have a number of veterans that contenders would be interested in, but they also have a number of younger players who might not necessarily be in Chicago’s long term plans, but would still garner a nice asset in any trade. But who could that be and what might the Bulls be able to get for them?
Otto Porter Jr.
Porter is an interesting case because he’s clearly earning more than he should. That’s not a knock on him, but rather an evaluation of his current contract as he enters its final year.
Of course, Porter is only 27 and could conceivably make an impact should Chicago string together some success in the near future. Whether they ultimately re-sign him — at a significantly lower rate — or trade him before his deal can expire, the front office has a tough decision to make.
Porter’s perimeter game would stand out as his most desirable aspect for nearly any and every contender. Still, it won’t be easy to find a team that can match his salary in order to facilitate a deal; the Bulls and any interested parties will either have to get creative or involve a third team if they want to make something happen. They could take back a longer-term contract than they might otherwise like to do push a deal over the finish line and, potentially, pick up a better asset, whether that be a draft pick or otherwise.
It made little sense to add Young when the team did two seasons ago. Sure, he’s a great locker-room presence and can offer a ton in the way of experience and guidance for the Bulls’ younger players. But, on the other hand, Young can make an impact now and the Bulls are nowhere near the team that could maximize his skills. Young soaking up minutes also means taking minutes away from those younger guys, the players that might one day help Chicago get back to the postseason, that need time on the court to grow.
Young has certainly helped himself get to a better team this season. In his second year with the team, Young has put all of those aforementioned qualities on display and, on the court, has shown teams he still has what it takes to be a high impact player. The flexibility to guard any position would be a major boon to the bench to any major contender, as would his 11.1 points, 5.4 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 1.4 steals per game.
Would a team move a first rounder for his services? Hard to say. But the Bulls should certainly be able to squeeze something of value out of any interested trade partners.
Arguably the least likely of this bunch to be moved given his contributions both on the court and in the locker room, Temple was a slam dunk addition this offseason.
Still, given he’s on a one-year deal and unlikely to stick with the Bulls long term, it’s safe to say Temple could be had were team to show enough interest and offer something adequate in a return. He’s given Chicago both a voice and source of leadership in the locker room and a consistent, stabilizing presence on the floor, whether as a starter or off the bench. He might not crack the postseason rotation for every playoff-bound squad, but the experience and insight the 11-year veteran could bring would be a major plus, especially for teams relying on younger players who haven’t spent much time on the game’s biggest stage.
If he can crack the rotation, whichever team might pick Temple up would get a solid defender and a strong perimeter shooter that wouldn’t get in the way on offense.
Realistically, the Bulls, given their current trajectory, should move one if not all of these players (and more). In fact, it would be more of a surprise if the team didn’t sell anyone at the deadline. For whomever they might move, the return might just be what will get Chicago’s rebuild back on track.
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