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It’s trade deadline time in the NBA. An ugly 19-33 start to the season has pinned the Bulls as should-be sellers. Time to trim off the fat from the edges of the roster, begin deciding which guys should be part of the future, and flip the guys who aren’t for assets and draft picks.
It’s a big couple of days for the Bulls. If the front office elects to stand pat, many fans would be disappointed.
Most Likely Trade Candidates
Veteran big man Thaddeus Young is probably the Bulls’ most likely trade candidate, or at least the most likely one who would bring back value.
Low maintenance and high energy, Young is a solid veteran oozing with playoff experience (51 career playoff games). He’ll bring solid defense, toughness on the boards, and some 3-point shooting that will help out a contender.
One wrinkle with Young is his contract. Trading for him isn’t a half-season rental. He is owed about $27 million across the next two years of his contract ($21 million of that is guaranteed). This could affect his value in the eyes of a trade suitor and thus the return the Bulls can get for the veteran.
If you aren’t going to use him, then trade him for goodness sake.
For a reason that still remains undisclosed, Valentine seems to have fallen into bad graces with head coach Jim Boylen.
It took him until the 18th game of the season to play any kind of significant minutes on a consistent basis. He had a long stretch where he was finally playing more and stringing together productive minutes. Eventually, he got excommunicated to the end of the bench. Recently, because the Bulls’ injury report is long and depressing, he has gotten more minutes.
Valentine becomes a restricted free agent at the end of the season. If Boylen plans to continue using him like this (and by using him I mean not using him), there’s no reason the Bulls should extend a qualifying offer to him.
Trade him away now and try to get an asset back for him. It isn’t going to be a lot, but something is better than nothing.
Valentine is a career 37.1 percent 3-point shooter, is a decent playmaker, and can score in bunches at times. He can help a contending team in the right role.
Maybe They Get Traded
The Chicago Sun-Times reported that Dunn is another player connected with the Los Angeles Clippers in trade rumors.
Working against his trade value is a second MCL sprain in as many years. He’s a tenacious defender who could help a contender when healthy, but given the state of his current injury, will he even be healthy enough to contribute if dealt?
Dunn has carved a niche for himself on this Bulls team, and you could make a case that he should be a part of the Bulls’ future because of his elite defense. Unless Dunn is part of a trade package that obviously favors the Bulls (which probably doesn’t happen because of the injury), don’t expect the Bulls to part ways, even as he gets set to hit restricted free agency this summer. They will likely have to make a decision on him then and decide just how much they’re willing to invest.
The Bulls legitimately may have less than 10 wins this season without Zach LaVine.
So, it probably isn’t a horrible thing that he’ll probably survive the NBA trade deadline with the Bulls still as his employer:
The Bulls have naturally received trade feelers for Zach LaVine but "off limits" was the description used by one source briefed on Chicago's thinking— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) February 4, 2020
In reality, the Bulls really shouldn’t have any “off limits” players, but it’s tough to see any outside offers matching up with how they value LaVine. He’s on a reasonable contract as well ($39 million over the final two years of the deal) and there should be no rush to trade him, so don’t expect anything here.
LaVine aside, the Bulls probably aren’t trading anybody else from their young core just yet. Lauri Markkanen is hurt and his value is at a low point, so selling low isn’t optimal. Wendell Carter Jr. is also hurt but is still just 20 years old and a promising defensive anchor, and he’s a guy who the Bulls wouldn’t trade unless they’re getting a star back. Rookie Coby White and second-year man Chandler Hutchison going anywhere would be a major surprise.
Otto Porter Jr. is recovering from his troublesome foot injury (he’s running again, so maybe he’ll be back soon?!) and has a $28.5 million player option he likely picks up next season, so a trade now seems unlikely. Tomas Satoransky is a solid player on an affordable deal (two years, $20 million after this year with $5 million guaranteed on the final year), but he’s probably worth keeping around as a future backup unless a really good offer comes across.