NEW YORK --- The NBA trade deadline passed on Thursday with the Chicago Bulls making no moves for now.
Expect them to be active in the buyout market, which would necessitate them waiving a player to sign a new one because they have 15 guaranteed contracts. They also sit roughly $1.7 million under the luxury tax, which they have paid only once in franchise history.
The Bulls made clear to teams in all talks leading up to the trade deadline that they like their core and want to see how the rest of this season plays out before considering possible future moves.
Executive vice president Artūras Karnišovas made significant changes to the roster he inherited over the last 24 months and has consistently stated his desire to see it grow together.
Karnišovas is scheduled to address reporters Thursday evening. Karnišovas has repeatedly touted his desire for roster continuity, a theory that has been hampered by Lonzo Ball not playing in an NBA game since January 2022.
The Bulls fielded several calls inquiring on Alex Caruso and, to a lesser extent, Coby White, league sources said. The Bulls never seriously entertained trading Caruso and received underwhelming offers for White.
The Chicago Sun-Times reported that the Bulls and Knicks held discussions for a deal centered on Zach LaVine. One source downplayed those talks, calling them preliminary and indicating they didn't happen this week. Another source insisted they didn’t take place but indicated such a scenario is something that could be discussed during the offseason once the Bulls see how this season concludes.
It would take significant first-round draft capital along with promising young players to even entertain parting with the two-time All-Star guard---if the Bulls reached that stage. But Karnišovas already rebuilt the Bulls in a win-now fashion, using draft capital to assemble it. So any step back for a rebuild is unlikely.
Trading any of the Bulls' "Big Three" could possibly be a soft reset, but it isn't being entertained for now. Taking on Evan Fournier’s contract in such a hypothetical scenario probably wouldn't be unappealing if any talks with the Knicks occur in the offseason because his contract contains a $19 million team option for 2024-25 and he’s close friends with Nikola Vucevic. The Bulls remain confident in their ability to re-sign Vucevic, who can become an unrestricted free agent on July 1.
LaVine has overcome a slow start to the first season of his five-year, $215 million contract that featured him on a knee management plan and getting benched by coach Billy Donovan. That incident stung LaVine, who made that clear to Donovan and to reporters and also, according to reporting from that time, openly questioned his role at times.
But LaVine's offensive numbers over the last two months have returned to his All-Star level, which is why he could draw trade interest. There's also a feeling among some rival executives that the Bulls may eventually move off their pairing of LaVine and DeMar DeRozan. But the Bulls have given no indications in conversations with other teams that they are prepared to do so.
The Bulls and Cleveland Cavaliers represented the only two teams not to make an in-season trade in 2022-23.