The NBA offseason is officially underway for all 30 NBA teams, following the Denver Nuggets defeating the Miami Heat in 5 games to become NBA champions.
The offseason moves quickly; the NBA draft is already next week, and then the free agency is a little over a week later. Trades will start rolling in very soon.

What will the Chicago Bulls do? As outlined in my article last week, Arturas Karnisovas has a big decision in front of him.

He has to pick and stick to a direction, not try to see-saw between directions. Mainly he and Marc Eversley can choose to run it back, rebuild, or retool.


Here are some trade ideas for each of the three scenarios:


Rebuild

  • Alex Caruso to the Warriors for Jonathan Kuminga, Patrick Baldwin Jr, 2023 first (#19), 2027 2nd
  • Andre Drummond to the Heat for Nikola Jovic
  • Nikola Vucevic sign-and-trade to the Suns for DeAndre Ayton and a 2024 2nd
  • DeMar DeRozan to the Hawks for De’Andre Hunter, Jalen Johnson, Bruno Fernando, 2023 2nd (#46), 2024 Unprotected 1st Hawks
  • Zach LaVine to the Knicks for Obi Toppin, Immanuel Quickley, Quentin Grimes, Jericho Sims, Isaiah Roby, Evan Fournier, Unprotected 2024 1st from Knicks, top 10 protected 2024 1st Mavericks, 2025 2nd from Detroit, Top 3 protected 2026 1st Knicks

If the Bulls decide to rebuild completely, they will need to trade every veteran on the team with value, acquire young players and picks, and try to tank in 2024 and 2025.

Caruso was highly sought after at the trade deadline. He still has two years on his deal at just under $10 million a year, a steal for a first-team all-defensive player. The Warriors were one of the teams interested in him. Suppose they want to try for one or two more final runs with the dynasty core of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green while keeping their role guys like Kevon Looney and others. In that case, they can trade their first on draft night, along with Kuminga, a player with a ton of upside but who has fallen out of favor with Steve Kerr. Baldwin Jr is also young but is mostly to match the salary and a second down the line for getting two years of very affordable Caruso to extend the window.

Miami struggled mightily to give Edrice “Bam” Adebayo a rest in the playoffs without a good big man behind him. Andre Drummond can fill that role, and it just costs Miami a project player who is not part of the rotation in Jovic. Then they can use their exceptions on scoring options off the bench.

If Phoenix can’t find a good trade offer for DeAndre Ayton, they could pivot to a sign and trade for Vucevic, a more consistent option than Ayton without the drama. Ayton could rehab in Chicago while also not being quite good enough to prevent them from tanking.

DeRozan trades are hard, especially for a rebuild. He has just one year on his deal and will be 35 soon. But he’s still an all-star. The Bulls get Hunter, who has been very up and down, but if he gets back up, he is quite affordable for 4 seasons; Jalen Johnson, who emerged as a good bench option for the Hawks down the stretch; Bruno Fernando, a late first who is still young, and a first and second. (On another note, the Bulls should see if Atlanta has any interest in a Capela for Vucevic sign-and-trade, but I doubt it) The Bulls could also try trading DeRozan to Portland for some combo of Anfernee Simons, Shaedon Sharpe, Nassir Little, and picks, but Portland will not give up much.

The LaVine trade is also interesting. As good as he is, I can’t see a team giving up a young star for him. The Knicks seem to be the perfect spot; they have a ton of young players as depth to give in Toppin, Quickley, Grimes, Sims, and Roby (they get to keep McBride, at least). They get out of the Fournier contract (though it is technically expiring) and can still get cap space from declining the Derrick Rose option. The Knicks would have a starting lineup of Brunson, LaVine, Barrett, Randle, and Robinson, with Hart, Hartenstein, and McBride off the bench. That is a contending team. The Bulls get a bunch of picks and young players and can still tank.


Retool

  • Nikola Vucevic and Marko Simonovic sign-and-trade to the Clippers for Ivica Zubac, Robert Covington, 2023 2nd (#48)
  • AND/OR
  • DeMar DeRozan, Carlik Jones, future 2nd to the Memphis Grizzlies for Luke Kennard, Tyus Jones, Ziarie Williams, Santi Aldama, 2023 1st (#25)
  • Andre Drummond to the Blazers for Trendon Watford, Blazers 1st owed to Bulls becomes a second after 2024 if not conveyed, future 2nd

Here, the Bulls trade one or two of their Big 3 to get a roster more fitting for Zach LaVine.

Zubac doesn’t have the stretchability that Vucevic has, but he could be a better defender and about as good on the glass. Covington could offset some of the 3-point shooting loss with his 3 and D ability on the wing (the Bulls need more of that on the wing) and can get a pick in the draft. While Zubac has been good for the Clippers, they may want to make changes to be in a better position in the playoffs.

Memphis also may be looking to change things up a bit as well after a disappointing postseason. They have a chance to take advantage of contracts slightly underpaying JJJ and Bane. They can parlay Kennard, Jones (if the Morant suspension isn’t too long), Williams, Aldama, and a first for an all-star in DeRozan. They have a lot of players under contract already, plus two seconds, so giving up this many guys will be ok. For the Bulls, Kennard gives them a legitimate 3-point shooting threat besides LaVine or Vucevic; Jones gives them a point guard to replace Lonzo Ball with a little less defense, Williams and Aldama are young players who could fit in the rotation, and they get a draft pick.

The Trail Blazers owe the Bulls a lottery protected first all the way until 2028. It severely limits what Portland can do in the trade market. As they seem to want to build a team around Damian Lillard still and try to trade for a star, they could make a trade with the Bulls to take the protections off from 2028 to 2024, allowing them to trade future picks. The Bulls could then swap Drummond for Trendon Watford, a younger and better player who gives the Bulls a legit body at PF, and the Bulls could simply grab a free-agent center. (Portland, if they choose to rebuild, could be a spot to dump the Lonzo Ball contract).


Run it Back

  • Marko Simonovic, Blazers lottery protected 1st to Pacers for Isaiah Jackson, Celtics 1st (#29), Cavaliers 2nd (#55)
  • Andre Drummond to Sacramento, PJ Dozier to Philadelphia, Furkan Korkmaz and #38 pick to the Bulls
  • #38 pick to the Knicks for better of Nets/Pistons 2025 2nds

Here, the Bulls keep their 3 stars and main rotation guys intact, with changes on the fringes in the trade market and free agency.

Isaiah Jackson is the Bulls’ new backup center, replacing Andre Drummond. He is younger and could blossom into a better player very soon. Indiana has a logjam at center after extending Myles Turner; Jalen Smith and Daniel Theis are also still under contract. They also have 5(!) picks in the upcoming draft, so they get a chance to push one of them into the future. The Bulls acquire Furkan Korkmaz, who has fallen out of the rotation for Philadelphia but was a good shooter and secondary distributor a couple of seasons ago and is still young.

Finally, they get 3 draft picks, one they can push into the future, the other two they use now, one on a two-way, and one to hopefully crack the rotation.


Next week, we’ll discuss possible draft and free-agent targets for the Bulls, depending on their chosen direction.

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