The Bulls got back in the win column on Wednesday night with a huge win over the Cavaliers, finally showing again just how much fun and how good this team can be when they’re playing at their best. They pulled off this win despite the continued absences of Zach LaVine, Lonzo Ball and a few others, though the game featured the return of Alex Caruso, who helped bring the vibes back to a good place with his relentless energy.
Unfortunately, the Bulls didn’t get good news on Ball, who has a small meniscus tear in his left knee, per Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium. Shams claims there’s “hope” Ball could potentially wind up playing through it, otherwise a minor procedure would be done. Woj says that decision will be made in the coming day or two, and the timetable for recovery after surgery would be 4-6 weeks. Ball has had this injury on this knee before, and the safe bet here is to get the surgery and be ready for the stretch run.
LaVine won’t travel on the Bulls’ upcoming three-game trip, but he seems to be progressing well and should hopefully be back in the near future.
The Bulls have another really tough game coming up Friday in Milwaukee against the defending champion Bucks before the schedule softens up a bit to close the month. Then it’s just 10 days until the trade deadline, so how the Bulls navigate these next few weeks and what happens with the injury situation will likely have an impact on their trade strategy.
There haven’t been a whole lot of concrete trade rumors out there for the Bulls, with the rumor mill currently being dominated by Ben Simmons silliness. That’s something the Bulls almost certainly will not be getting involved with given the Sixers’ asking price.
When it comes to Bulls trade conversations, a lot of the talk revolves around Patrick Williams, Coby White, Derrick Jones Jr.’s contract and whether some type of all-in move should be made. Last week, Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer and HoopsHype’s Michael Scotto reported White is available, with Scotto noting they don’t want to trade Williams. However, K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago suggested the belief is White will stick around.
Neither of these players should be untouchable. Williams is still recovering from wrist surgery and is very raw. At this point, I’m not expecting much or anything out of him the rest of this season. While Williams’ potential is tantalizing, it’s fair to wonder if he’ll hit his ceiling here, or at the very least develop into an impact player anytime soon. If the Bulls actually think they have a chance this season and next season, they should be willing to part with Pat.
As for White, he has come on strong after his brutal start to the season and has a role on this team as a microwave scorer. However, he will be extension eligible in the offseason, and Ayo Dosunmu’s emergence could make White expendable for an upgrade elsewhere on the roster. Of course, Ball’s knee problems now probably make a White trade much less likely.
In terms of specific trade targets, Jerami Grant has been a popular name bandied about. However, a report from Fischer earlier this week is notable for this situation:
The frenzy comes one year after Pistons general manager Troy Weaver swiftly declined any inquiry about Grant’s availability after the forward surprisingly chose Detroit in free agency. Sources say Detroit is now asking for two first-round picks or one first-round pick plus a high-upside young player.
That’s a similar valuation Aaron Gordon garnered last season, and the parallels are clear. Like Gordon at the time of his deal to Denver, Grant still has one year remaining on his contract following this season. Sources say Grant expects to sign a lucrative extension in the ballpark of four years, $112 million this offseason.
For any team to sign off on a trade for Grant, they’ll need assurances of his plans to re-sign this offseason, just like Gordon did in Denver. Grant also has little interest in joining a new situation where he doesn’t feature as a primary offensive option, sources said.
The Bulls aren’t mentioned among the initial laundry list of teams interested in Grant, but Fischer singles them out later as a suitor that makes sense given the need at the 4 and all the connections the Pistons forward has with Bulls people. Plus, the Pistons loved Williams in the draft. The conclusion, though, is that Chicago isn’t willing to pony up what it will take to get Grant:
For Chicago to move Williams, Karnisovas would need absolute confidence Grant is the final ingredient for a championship run. The front office has already mortgaged the majority of its future draft capital, and sending out Williams, Derrick Jones Jr. and the Blazers’ protected 2022 first-rounder would lock the Bulls into an inflexible future. At this juncture, Chicago appears uncomfortable with that.
It’s fair to question if Grant would be the right all-in move due to his contract situation and his desire to be a top offensive option, but this shouldn’t remove the Bulls from the conversation entirely. They’ll surely monitor this situation as Grant gets healthy from a thumb injury and the deadline gets closer.
Aside from Grant, Harrison Barnes is another popular name, though who knows what the Kings wind up doing. They’re right in the middle of the Simmons mess, with Barnes a potential candidate to go to Philly.
Looking at other big men on the block, John Collins, Domantas Sabonis, Myles Turner (he’s hurt now) and Christian Wood stand out, but it’s unclear if the Bulls have interest in any of these guys.
The Bulls could also look to make smaller moves. They have a $5 million trade exception at their disposal and sit about $4.6 million below the luxury tax. They’re also hard-capped because of their offseason moves.
Buckle up, because these next few weeks will be interesting.