Bulls vs. Raptors roster snapshot and preview: chaos against continuity
analyzing the big Siakam trade and what it means for the Bulls (beyond one game)
“History will tell you that a lot of trades at the trade deadline don’t help you the rest of the way. (Trades) will probably help you during the draft and offseason because you have more time to put the team together…It’s hard to make these kind of changes, where you change players, they come to you, they’re still in shock and you got games left right now that you need some consistency”
I’d say “please resolve this past trauma from an in-season trade so it helps you do your job” but AK cited an example: his own trade for Nikola Vucevic three years ago.
Obviously (though he desperately spun otherwise), a horrible decision. But not so much the concept of it but the player target. If you’re going to spend future assets to make the playoffs, and continue to bet on yourself making those outgoing picks less valuable, you need to get a better player than Vuc. And, just as important, have a better player already on your team.
That brings us to news of yesterday’s big trade between the Indiana Pacers and tonight’s Bulls opponent, the Toronto Raptors. In this deal, the analog to Vuc is Pascal Siakam. From the Pacers perspective, I thought it was an overpay in the vein of the Bulls Vuc acquisition, but a couple huge differences: Siakam is better than Vuc, and their incumbent star Tyrese Halliburton is better than Zach LaVine was for the Bulls in 2021.
Looking at the sellers in that trade, the 2024 Raptors are kind of like the 2024 Bulls. The Bulls also have a decision to make on a big-money veteran player (::KC bursts in “no! Zach is under contract and a good teammate, he can be moved in the offseason!”::), though there are a couple key differences between LaVine and Siakam. Again, Siakam is better (or at least has a more valuable/scarce skillset), and he does not have a gigantic 3+ year contract to take on. So it makes sense that he will get more trade return and make it easier on the Raps to move him, whereas the Bulls are trying to thread this needle of being delusional and cheap.
The Siakam-Raptors and LaVine-Bulls are also comparable in that you can subjectively assess that both teams may be better off without the ‘star’. We’ve seen how lack of LaVine has opened up more opportunity for the similarly-positioned Coby White, and the Raptors were almost openly pining for that with Scottie Barnes.
(A difference here too is that Barnes is a much better prospect than Coby. I legit heard a Bulls fan podcast before these Raptors trades lament that Barnes was being held back, like Patrick Williams was now lol)
The Raptors and Bulls have been linked in their mediocrity the past couple seasons. But their front office has built an NBA Champion*, whereas AKME has built a fun couple-dozen games that one year.
*(another benefit to Siakam’s trade value over LaVine’s: reputation from being on a great team)
Between moving Siakam out and last month’s trade acquisition of a better point guard in Immanuel Quickley, the Toronto front office looks to be making a much bolder and better-executed change in direction.
After these trades, the Raptors are younger and added a lot more shooting. They surprisingly waxed the Heat last night and are 2.5 games behind the Bulls. Barnes and Barrett are likely too inconsistent to have them go on some run, and having Poeltl out with such little big man depth (Thad Young is the backup center!) really hurts, but I wouldn’t be that totally surprised if they overcome the ‘shock’ of these moves and can get in the play-in tournament.
But for tonight, the Bulls roster “consistency” will likely help tremendously. The recently-acquired players are not likely to be available for the Raptors tonight.
Injury Report: on first publish it was unknown who would be available so soon after the trade, but latest reporting has all Toronto acquisitions available.
Bulls injury report is more murky. Ayo seems ok to play, but Patrick Williams may remain out with this ankle injury that kept him out of the last contest.
Schedule factor: Raptors played last night! Got ‘em. Though they are at home for both, whereas the Bulls had janky travel from Cleveland back to Chicago now to Toronto due to the weather.
Oddsmakers analysis: Bulls favored but not by much, -135 to win, Implied final score: TOR 113, CHI 115
Game Time: 6:30pm central, on TNT??? Come back tonight for the OPEN THREAD.