While the Jimmy Butler trade last June and the Cameron Payne trade before the deadline last season sent Bulls fans into ‘angry, pitchfork wielding mob mode,’ the reaction to this trade has been much more subdued: Bulls fans want to believe that this was a good trade, and it looks like a good enough trade, but a history of miscalculations from Chicago front office executives Gar Forman and John Paxson will make Bulls fans forever skeptical and pessimistic about any move they make.
Now that the internet has had 24 hours (plenty of time) to digest, what’s the verdict on this trade?
The Athletic Stephen Noh: Grade C
It would seem that Dell Demps, the Pelicans’ general manager, used this roadblock as an opportunity to extract more value from the Bulls. Picking up Mirotic’s second year should not have been an issue, as he would be on an eminently tradable deal on a very reasonable $12.5 million, should the Pelicans really have only wanted him for one season.
Nevertheless, the Bulls were forced to increase their offer, including a 2018 second-round pick (slotted to be No. 47). Those picks have value, as the Bulls should have learned from selling the Jordan Bell pick last summer.
Noh, rightfully so, was caught up with the Bulls shipping away another second-round pick in a rebuild situation after caving into the Pelicans demands after the original framework for a deal was in place on Monday.
The Athletic Danny Leroux: Positive Review
Leroux’s diagnosis of the trade was decidedly more upbeat than Noh’s.
That means one way of thinking about this trade is the Bulls consolidating two potential transactions that could have each yielded a late first- or early second-rounder into one pick that should end up in the mid-teens. Broadly speaking, that is a reasonably good proposition for them, particularly since the Pelicans are an injury away from missing the playoffs.
The Bulls getting worse this season was a key a factor in the solid B+ grade from Maloney.
Mirotic did not want to be in Chicago, and frankly, his strong play this season was not helping the Bulls. Well, it was helping them win games, but that was actually hurting them in the long run. They have a nice young core, but they need another top pick in this loaded draft, and Mirotic’s departure should help them get a higher pick. In dealing Mirotic, they moved one of their best players this season for a guy they won’t play, and two guys they’ll waive, so they definitely got worse on the floor.
Woo praises the Bulls for reeling in a first-round pick in a stingy trade market and notes that this trade made the Bulls worse now which is good for the future.
Although he grades the trade out well, Woo goes on a rant about selling second-round picks.
This echoes their decision to give a first-rounder back to the Timberwolves in the Jimmy Butler trade. The internet will never forgive them for straight-up selling the second-rounder that became Jordan Bell, and now the team seems willing to take on money for draft picks. Chicago deserves credit for creating a first-round return on Mirotic, who had little place in their plans, but a little rhyme and reason to their decision-making wouldn’t hurt, either.
My immediate reaction to this trade from the Bulls’ standpoint was negative. Not only are they giving up a valuable player in Mirotic, they’re also taking back a bad contract with Asik. Is all that worth a pick in the middle of the first round?
Looking at the trade value chart I put together last year, the difference between the 18th pick and the 28th pick [suggested value for Asik contract dump alone] is valued somewhere between the 29th and 30th pick. And that’s in terms of how I would value the picks; in practice, it’s generally more expensive to trade up, so from the league’s perspective Chicago probably got the equivalent of something like the 25th pick for Mirotic’s value alone. Were they going to do better than that? I’d say probably not.
Including this as it brings up another benefit: more playing time (and evaluation) for Bobby Portis:
Yes, it seems comical that they still need evaluation time on a player who has appeared in 168 career games, but he’s not unlike Taj Gibson in that he’s played behind others during his short career. He’s only started 17 games, and despite Lauri Markkanen playing like a Rookie of the Year and Nikola Mirotic being among the league leaders in 3-point shooting, Portis hasn’t been half bad himself.
In 42 games he’s averaging 12.1 points on 48 percent shooting in just 20.5 minutes. And since the Bulls’ infamous 3-20 start, Portis has upped those averages to 12.2 points on 49 percent shooting, along with 5.9 rebounds in just 19.6 minutes. He has the Bulls’ second best net rating (behind only David Nwaba) and is far and away the Bulls’ most efficient rebounder.
Portis was squarely behind Markkanen and Mirotic, and for good reason, but an extended look will give the Bulls some information. Portis has only played 129 minutes next to Markkanen - fewer than the 372 he played next to Mirotic - and the numbers are ugly, but perhaps they form more chemistry as the year goes on.
Personally, the Butler trade has taught me to be less reactive in the immediate aftermath of trades. After that trade, it was almost universally felt around here that the Bulls were fleeced, but time seeing Lauri Markkanen, Dunn, and Zach LaVine play has very much changed that thinking. To a lesser significance, I also thought that the Bulls stole Michael Carter-Williams from the Bucks in exchange for Tony Snell.
So although I cautiously like the Mirotic trade, I will not lock myself into an opinion of it until more time has passed.