Bulls executive vice president John Paxson likes to remind people that the only untouchable player he has known is former teammate Michael Jordan.
This is, after all, the executive who dealt Derrick Rose and Jimmy Butler, albeit for different reasons and under different circumstances.
So, yes, the Bulls answer the phone when another team calls to gauge the market on, say, Zach LaVine. That said, it would be a surprise if the Bulls rebuild off a rebuild and trade their biggest asset by Thursday’s deadline.
As for any move, executives around the league and agents that I’ve spoken to are mostly focused on what happens with Thaddeus Young and Denzel Valentine. Both players have either publicly or privately expressed happiness over their roles, although Young’s has changed in light of Lauri Markkanen’s injury.
In advance of Thursday, here are groups to rank each player’s chance of getting moved.
Zach LaVine. Not only does management still value LaVine, he has had an All-Star caliber season while playing on a reasonable contract.
Lauri Markkanen. The talk around the league is that he may have been overvalued at last year’s deadline and is undervalued now. You don’t sell low on such a talent, particularly one on his rookie contract.
Wendell Carter Jr. He actually may have moved into “most untouchable” status given his on-court value, potential and cost control of rookie contract.
Chandler Hutchison. This shouldn’t be read as the second-year forward being untouchable. It’s more a reflection on how his potential, even though he’s old for a second-year player, is still valued internally and that he’s on his rookie contract.
Daniel Gafford. Most everyone would agree that the active big man has been a steal as a second-round pick.
Tomas Satoransky. His $10 million salary, steady play and partial guarantee in 2021-22 make him eminently moveable. Until Coby White is ready, assuming one day he is, now is not the time.
Otto Porter Jr. Have you seen his player option?
Open for business
Thaddeus Young. The Clippers are at least one team that has expressed interest in the veteran, according to league sources. A Young-for-Moe-Harkless trade makes sense for both teams. Young also could be dealt in the offseason, holding down the fort until Markkanen returns. At that point, he’d only have one season fully guaranteed left on his deal.
Denzel Valentine. According to two rival executives, the 76ers and Grizzlies are possible landing spots for the former lottery pick, who had fallen completely out of favor with coach Jim Boylen before the recent spate of injuries forced him back into the lineup. Valentine for Zhaire Smith; who says no?
Kris Dunn. If the fact I also think Dunn could sign an extension with the Bulls this summer sounds contradictory, let me explain. The Bulls actively shopped Dunn last summer and would move him by Thursday again if the right deal presents itself. That’s only because they run the risk of losing him for nothing this offseason. Yes, he’s a restricted free agent, allowing the Bulls to match any offers he gets. But if the price tag of an offer sheet gets too high — he makes sense on the Clippers — the Bulls strike out. The fact that Dunn is injured and has had trouble staying healthy makes it likely little materializes between now and Thursday. So his situation almost certainly pushes to offseason business.
Doesn't move needle individually so only as cap filler
Cristiano Felicio. Shaq Harrison. Ryan Arcidiacono. Luke Kornet. Coby White.
Sorry to lump all these together, but such is the nature of their status. Of these, the Bulls value White and Arcidiacono the most.Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports and tune-in to watch the NBA Trade Deadline Show on Thursday, February 6 at 1:30 p.m. CT. Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Bulls easily on your device.