The NBA trade deadline is just two weeks away, and with that, the rumor mill is spinning. The Chicago Bulls sit at somewhat of a crossroads, wanting to avoid a rebuild, but not really being good enough to be considered contenders. They could choose to stand pat and just make changes at the margins, which is what Arturas Karnisovas has done for the most part since the 2021 offseason (though to the chagrin of most fans). They could make a move that improves the team right now with the current core. They could retool by trading one of DeMar DeRozan or Zach LaVine. Or they could kickstart a rebuild by trading both and maybe even Nikola Vucevic. We don’t know what offers are on the table, but it’s safe to say the Bulls have some options, not none. With that knowledge, let’s cook up some potential trades for the Bulls that could happen by the February 8th trade deadline.
Bulls receive: Dorian Finney-Smith, Royce O’Neale, Dariq Whitehead, 2025 2nd (via PHX), 2029 2nd
Nets receive: DeMar DeRozan, Jevon Carter
Bulls receive: Evan Fournier, Quentin Grimes, Jericho Sims, 2024 first (best of DAL or NYK), 2024 2nd (via Utah or CLE), 2025 2nd (via BKN)
Knicks receive: DeMar DeRozan, Andre Drummond
As I said last week, DeMar DeRozan is the most likely of the Big 3 to get traded, though I wouldn’t bet on it. That said, a team in the state of New York could definitely use him.
The Nets doesn’t own their own pick, so they’d still like to make a playoff push. They have too many wings who aren’t scorers. DFS and O’Neale could fit as 3 and D wings for the Bulls as they reshape their offense around Coby White, Zach LaVine, and Nikola Vucevic. Whitehead was a first rounder who hasn’t cracked the rotation, but could be an ideal SF of the future. A couple of seconds get the deal done as the Nets get the best player in the deal (albeit on an expiring contract), as well as Jevon Carter, who they’d hope can find his shooting touch again.
The Knicks could still use another scorer to take pressure off of Jalen Brunson and Julius Randle in the playoffs. The DeRozan fit is a bit more awkward than with LaVine, but it seems that Klutch Sports do not want their clients playing for the Knicks. The Knicks were one of DeRozan’s preferred spots, along with the Heat. From the Knicks the Bulls can clear cap space still by getting Fournier’s contract ($19 million team option), as well as two solid young players in Grimes and Sims. They get the highest first round pick the Knicks will own (likely late teens or early 20s), and a couple of seconds for DeRozan and Andre Drummond, as the Knicks still need some center while Mitchell Robinson is injured.
Bulls receive: Harrison Barnes, Kevin Huerter, Davion Mitchell, 2024 2nd, 2026 first (lottery protected)
Kings receive: Zach LaVine
Bulls receive: Bennedict Mathurin, Isaiah Jackson, Buddy Hield, Jalen Smith, 2024 2nd, 2028 top 10 protected 1st
Pacers receive: Zach LaVine, Torrey Craig, Andre Drummond
It’s hard to gauge LaVine’s market. One one hand, he played badly during the Bulls awful start, and they have been better without him this season (at least on paper; in reality the best version of this Bulls team still includes LaVine). He’s still somewhat injury prone and the contract isn’t as bad as people make it out to be, but it’s not great (even if there’s team control for 3.5 seasons). On the other hand, since returning from injury LaVine has been a lot better defensively and distributing, and he’s still an elite 3 level scorer in his prime. So his market would absolutely be stronger than D’Angelo Russel, Rui Hachimura, and a pick if more teams are interested.
The Kings were mentioned, along with the Warriors, as teams to keep an eye on in terms of a LaVine trade, and they have talked with the Bulls. The framework of that trade included Harrison Barnes and Kevin Huerter. To finalize it, the Bulls also get Davion Mitchell, who has fallen in the Kings’ rotation, as well as two picks. Drummond could also be included in this deal as the Kings have a need at backup C.
The Pacers have already made a big trade for Pascal Siakam, but they are said to still be dangling assets for another trade. This trade would be more for rebuilding purposes. The Bulls could flip Hield to a team needing a 3 point shooter, while keeping Smith and Jackson as developmental bigs and putting Mathurin in a backcourt of the future with Coby White, and whoever else they may get, maybe combined with a DeRozan trade. It may be a bit much in terms of draft capital given by Indiana as they go all-in, but they still have a decent amount of picks, and get Craig and Drummond who can plug right into the rotation.
Bulls receive: Clint Capela, AJ Griffin, 2024 2nd (via MIA, protected 31-50)
Hawks receive: Nikola Vucevic, Dalen Terry
Vucevic is very unlikely to be traded, due to the fact he just signed an extension and due to his age. I took a stab at one anyway. Capela has struggled mightily this season, so the Hawks may try to upgrade there while they continue to bring along Onyeka Okongwu. In order to do so, they swap Griffin and Terry. Griffin has shown much more in the NBA than Terry so far, but still has fallen in the Hawks rotation. A second that is unlikely to convey gets it done. The Bulls would do this with the hopes that Capela gets back to form on the glass and defensively so the Bulls defense improves vastly.
Bulls receive: Christian Braun, Peyton Watson, Jalen Pickett, Justin Holiday, 2024 2nd, 2025 2nd
Nuggets receive: Alex Caruso
Bulls receive: Jonathan Kuminga, Moses Moody, 2026 lottery protected 1st
Warriors receive: Alex Caruso, Andre Drummond OR Torrey Craig
Reports are the Bulls won’t part with Caruso unless they get multiple first round picks. How does recent first rounders who have played well in limited time sound?
Braun played a big role for the Nuggets off the bench in their 2023 title. Watson has shown out defensively this season, though his offense remains a work in progress. Pickett was another guy the Nuggets picked recently, and Holiday matches salary as a cheap 3 and D veteran. The picks finalize it.
The Warriors could try saving their season by combining their two young disgruntled 2021 first rounders and a future protected pick into Caruso, who would help them solve a lot of their issues with his elite defense and efficient secondary ballhandling and 3 point shot. It’s a steep price for Golden State (maybe they don’t give up a first along with the two young guys, but that’s why I included either Drummond or Craig) but Kuminga and Moody’s value only goes down every day they stay in San Francisco, upset at Steve Kerr.
Bulls receive: Neemias Queta, O’Shae Brissett, 2024 1st via BOS, 2024 protected SAS 2nd
Celtics receive: Andre Drummond, Henri Drell
Bulls receive: Ousmane Dieng, 2024 2nd via HOU
Thunder receive: Andre Drummond
Drummond should have the Bulls phone ringing quite a bit; a number of contenders will need a backup center. If the Bulls have multiple offers, it might be malpractice to keep Drummond instead of entertaining them, considering his contract is expiring.
Boston will need a backup center, as they can’t rely on Luke Kornet with the injury-prone Kristaps Porzingis and aging Al Horford. They’ll look at bringing back Daniel Theis again, but Drummond is another option. The Bulls could snag Queta, who has played well for the Celtics on a two-way, and Brissett, who played well early this season but has struggled as of late and fallen out of the rotation, but he gives the Bulls another PF option. The 30th pick in the draft likely gets it done.
The Thunder are still waiting with all their assets to make their big move, but they could make a small one to improve their odds this season. By giving up one of their many picks (they also have the Clippers first which if Drummond is in high demand they could offer instead of the Rockets 2nd), and Dieng, a big forward who is a project and may never pass up the guys ahead of him in OKC, they fix their biggest issue in rebounding.
A wild card
Bulls receive: Bruce Brown
Raptors receive: Lonzo Ball, Dalen Terry, 2024 Blazers 1st (lottery protected until 2028), 2027 Bulls 1st (lottery protected)
If the Bulls continue with the team they have, why not try and make it work? Enter this trade. It’s 99% not going to happen, but if the Raptors feels Bruce Brown doesn’t want to be there, and want to add to the draft capital they received for Siakam, they could take the Bulls salary dumping 1.5 seasons of Lonzo Ball for Bruce Brown. The Raptors also get Terry, who they can try and rehabilitate, the Blazers first, which is unlikely to convey for now, but could be valuable down the line if the Blazers want to make any trades, and a protected Bulls first once their obligation to the Spurs in 2025 is extinguished. Brown would fit well as a guard-wing hybrid for the Bulls, who can use more defense and playmaking and 3 point shooting. Malcolm Brogdon is another player they could target with that same package, while giving Portland their pick back.
(Speaking of the Raptors, if Kyle Lowry gets bought out by the Hornets following the Terry Rozier trade, expect the Bulls to be interested in reuniting him with DeMar DeRozan, as their version of the Patrick Beverley signing from last year).
There you are Bulls fans, 10 different mock trades for this February. Let’s hope they don’t sit around and preach continuity instead of making at least one move.
You can find my proposed mock Bulls trades here.