The NBA trade deadline passed Thursday with the Bulls’ roster intact.
The 76ers, Grizzlies and Clippers each made moves to preclude any substantive talks about adding Denzel Valentine and Thaddeus Young from occurring.
As NBC Sports Chicago reported multiple times, the Clippers had Young on their list of potential targets but also had larger plans. According to multiple reports, the Clippers were on the verge of landing Marcus Morris from the Knicks in a three-team deal with the Wizards.
As for Valentine, a robust market for a player clearly not in the Bulls’ future plans never materialized.
Both players also are currently logging significant minutes in light of the team's widespread injuries.
This means, the Bulls’ next attempt to upgrade their roster after a disappointing first two-thirds of the season gets pushed to this offseason. That's when it's quite possible changes to the basketball operations structure and scouting department will have been made.
If the Bulls keep Kris Dunn’s significant cap hold on their books and, as widely assumed, Otto Porter Jr. exercises his $28.4 million player option, they project to be an over-the-cap team and thus only able to add players via exceptions in free agency and the draft.
The Bulls also could revisit trying to move Young this summer. At that time, the veteran forward only would have one season of a large guarantee on his contract at $13.5 million. The $14.1 million that he’s due in 2021-22 is only guaranteed for $6 million.
Though they’ve been hesitant to consider rebooting the rebuild, the Bulls also could consider trading cornerstone pieces like Zach LaVine and Lauri Markkanen. The internal belief in LaVine remains high. Markkanen has endured a trying season that has featured regression and frustration over his role in the offense. But as of now, both sides plan to enter negotiations on an extension of his rookie deal.
The Bulls’ plan all along was to move towards competitiveness and relevancy this season and next and then chase a premier free agent in the 2021 offseason. That’s when they project to have maximum salary cap space.
This underwhelming and disappointing season has challenged the premise of the plan. No trade deadline activity only places more pressure on this offseason and beyond.