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Bulls trade rumor: the Clippers are interested in Thaddeus Young

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one of the Bulls few veterans could be already on the move

NBA: Washington Wizards at Chicago Bulls Quinn Harris-USA TODAY Sports

We have a RUMOR from KC Johnson:

A league source previously confirmed to NBC Sports Chicago that the Clippers’ interest in Young is legitimate, which was first reported by the Los Angeles Times. A Clippers scout attended a recent Bulls game despite the fact the teams don’t meet again until April.

(oh man, hazard pay due to any scouts forced to watch Boylenball. )

It’s tough to even speculate on what the Bulls overall direction is at this year’s February 6th trade deadline, because we don’t have much of a clue what the direction is for the entire goddamned franchise.

Except the usual: save money? Young was signed very early in free agency and to a contract sizeable enough to motivate the veteran to play for a bad Jim Boylen led team. He was supposed to provide frontcourt defense and some consistent scoring plus be a ‘locker room good guy’. Instead, and confirmed by Young that he wasn’t told this in free agency, he’s been stretched out to the perimeter more on both ends of the court, and seeing his minutes lower than expected even in the wake of several frontcourt injuries. As such, it was reported as early as six weeks ago that Young was unhappy with his role and potentially looking to get out. Now that was from Joe Cowley so it wasn’t very believable, but it’s looking like indeed that is the case.

Fairly embarrassing for your top free agent signing to want out this early, let alone delivering on that ask. But 1) this is the Bulls and they cannot be embarrassed, and 2) maybe it is better to just admit the mistake in signing Young if he isn’t going to be used well while potentially hampering development elsewhere.

Young is producing at a low unseen in years, but you can see how the Clippers - a big market franchise with championship aspirations - would want him for their playoff run.

But it would be a significant investment. Young’s contract is roughly $13M for this year, next year up to $13.5M, and while the Bulls touted their ‘guarantee protection’ on the third year it’s a pretty sizeable $6M due even if cut by then.

Based on salary-matching trade rules, especially strict as the Clippers are so close to the tax (I’m assuming they’d pay it as they are trying to win, weird...), in any Thad Young trade they’d pretty much have to start with Mo Harkless, whose contract is $11m and expiring.

While you can reason for the Clippers that Young is a better fit than Harkless, it’s also likely that they can do better - or at least less costly while similar production - in a trade elsewhere.

So then given the financial hit they’d be taking not sure what asset the Clippers would give to upgrade from Harkless to Young. Now, the Bulls, who are way under the tax, can try and take some of that financial burden as a way to get a better asset, but that hasn’t been their m.o.. L.A.’s own first round picks, which they have the next two drafts, are likely not happening. If speculating further, assets include rookie-scale guys like Mfiondu Kabengele, Jerome Robinson, Terance Mann (Boylen can quote Field of Dreams!), and the 2021+2023 Pistons 2nd rounder (assuming the Clippers own 2nds are pretty worthless while the Pistons will be bad forever).

Also important to note that if you are havin’ fun on the trade machine and expanding the deal, like you think Denzel Valentine would get on the court for them, both teams are at a full roster.

Even looking at just Harkless as a return, it’d be a better contract and maybe even better fit. Harkless is more slight and a wing defender, and more of a 3-point attempter than what they’re trying to force Young to do. And it’d free up precious minutes for precious Lauri. But this trade would be further pivoting towards an identity of “very young team that has an idiot coach who costs them wins saying they’re growing but actually screwing with their development” and is that really the direction they want to go?