The Bulls secured a nice win as they headed into the break, beating a somehow-worse-than-them-though-having-a-lot-of-talent Pelicans group. They sit at 16-18 and tied in the 9th/10th ‘seed’ in the East with the Pacers. As we’re all well aware, the Bulls are part of a giant turd blockage in this toilet of a conference where eight teams between slots 4-12 are separated by four games.
A couple of those teams are behind even them though, the Pistons and Cavaliers, and both were identified today by Shams Charania of the Athletic as clear sellers heading into this month’s trade deadline.
But what is interesting is that Shams says the Bulls “have registered interest” in Andre Drummond.
Drummond, who I keep forgetting is not on the Pistons anymore but is a Cleveland Cavalier, had been shut down by the team as they look for a trade before his contract expires at the end of the season. It’s a hefty one, over $28m, which all but guarantees that the Bulls would have to use Otto Porter Jr.’s identical salary to send back.
Even as a one-for-one swap this isn’t too enticing. The Bulls could use a backup center who could even step up with starter minutes when Wendell Carter is getting trucked by the large and awesome opposing centers in the league. But while Drummond is huge and a great rebounder, he doesn’t really perform that well defensively against those guys either. (Nobody does, which is part of the context when assessing Carter’s struggles.)
But it would make sense if Porter - who as a big wing is more versatile as a defender even though he is slower and jiggly this season - has been deemed unplayable this year. The Bulls have given no indication that Porter will return anytime soon, waiting for his back issues to subside then work on his conditioning, but there’s also a lot of season left.
Now, of course, it would take something more than salary-matching to get Cleveland to do such a trade, as they could just release him after the deadline if no offers of actual assets emerge. The Bulls could look to some of their lower-end assets here: a second-round pick, Chandler Hutchison (another mystery return date, but he’s young and under contract next year)...there isn’t much else, unless Cleveland wants to try and pass off Ryan Arcidiacono in a ‘Dellavadova’ jersey for merch. It’s also of note that Shams mentions the Cavs making Cedi Osman and Taurean Prince available, so perhaps part of an asset play from the Bulls standpoint could be taking on those multi-year contracts.
What’s more intriguing than Drummond himself is the idea that the Bulls are ‘registering interest’ in improving the team. There hasn’t been much of that in the new Arturas Karnisovas era, and piling that on top of years of Paxson Traumatic Stress Disorder meant my brain automatically went to a deadline of doing nothing or selling. I still think dealing Thaddeus Young is a good idea if they can get a mid-first round pick, but if there is no chance of that maybe you ride this Thadissance into the play-in and try to help the core by playing in meaningful basketball. Or you thread the needle and do both: get a great asset for Young, yet him leaving doesn’t totally tank the season because you added playable parts elsewhere.
There was another small rumor this week (via) where the aforementioned Pacers were rebuffed by the Bulls in not only interest in Young but Garrett Temple. We don’t know what was offered, it’s not like Temple should be considered untradeable, but that is another indication that the Bulls aren’t looking to outright sell this season. I just hope they do something.