An offseason trade Bulls could make with each team left out of Orlando
The NBA’s transaction window opened Tuesday, which, to be frank, means little to nothing for the Bulls.
While all 30 teams will be afforded the opportunity to convert two-way deals, sign free agents or waive already-existing roster fixtures, the onus of those moves will center on the 22 clubs invited to the NBA’s Disney restart in July. Anthony Tolliver (Memphis Grizzlies), Corey Brewer (Sacramento Kings), Tyler Johnson (Brooklyn Nets) have all already reportedly found homes, with more signings (J.R. Smith to the Lakers, anyone?) expected through the week; the window closes June 30.
As for trades? Those aren’t possible, given that the season restart is still, in principle, a continuation of the 2019-20 campaign, and the deadline passed on Feb. 6.
But for those in offseason mode, it’s never too early to start dreaming. Here are a few ideas on trades the Bulls could make with the other seven teams left out of Orlando — affectionately nicknamed by John Hollinger the “Delete Eight” — when the offseason begins.
Bulls receive: Malik Monk
Hornets receive: Ryan Arcidiacono
The Hornets are not a tidy trade partner for the Bulls. Charlotte’s roster is dotted with bloated contracts, mismatched players and a select few promising core pieces that don’t match up well with what the Bulls either already have on the roster (Devonte’ Graham, P.J. Washington) or would realistically offer (Miles Bridges).
So, we landed on Monk. A flier. He’s been largely underwhelming since the Hornets selected him with the No. 11 pick in the 2017 draft, and was just recently reinstated from an indefinite suspension for violating the NBA’s anti-drug policy. But there’s still something tantalizing in Monk’s game. In a 13-game stretch from Jan. 20 to Feb. 25 before the suspension was levied, he enjoyed the best stretch of basketball of his career, averaging 17 points per game on 45.7% shooting (35% from 3-point range); his jump-shooting and pure scoring ability were lauded coming out of Kentucky. With Coby White possibly transitioning to full-time starter in 2020-21 and Denzel Valentine’s future with the team uncertain, the best case outcome would be Monk serving as a boon off the bench.
And if it didn’t work out, his rookie contract expires after the 2020-21 season. The Bulls would certainly miss Arcidiacono’s defense and availability, but at this stage of the rebuild, perhaps this shot-in-the-dark could be worth the low risk.
New York Knicks
Bulls receive: Reggie Bullock
Knicks receive: Chandler Hutchison, Luke Kornet; 2021 second-round pick (swap with NOP)
Bullock represents another low-risk flier, but perhaps a steadier one. He’d slot neatly into Hutchison’s role as understudy to (an ideally healthy) Otto Porter Jr., and while Bullock’s defense is nothing to write home about, he’s a 38.5% 3-point shooter for his career. His 2019-20 campaign, which was truncated due to back surgery he had in the summer of 2019, saw him shoot 33.3% from deep, which marked a notable regression from the previous four years, when he hit 40.4% of his long-range looks across 193 games. But with a long offseason to work back to full strength, he could be a snug fit in the Bulls’ offense.
For the Bulls, it’s a play at immediate offensive improvement off the pine. For New York, Hutchison would be a project on the wing, Kornet is salary filler and the second-round swap sweetens the pot. Bullock and Kornet’s contracts both expire after 2020-21, and Hutchison’s rookie deal is escapable after next season by way of a club option, if necessary.
Bulls receive: Derrick Rose, Tony Snell
Pistons receive: Tomas Satoransky, Cristiano Felicio, Chandler Hutchison; 2021 second-round picks (Bulls), 2021 second-round pick (swap with NOP)
Picture it: Rose backing up Coby White, Felicio’s salary off the books and Tony Snell comes home! A Bulls fan’s dream.
It might take a bit of massaging to get the Pistons to buy into this one; they were reportedly seeking a lottery-level draft choice at the deadline for Rose’s services, and rightfully so. He averaged 18.1 points and 5.6 assists in just 26 minutes per game for Detroit in a renaissance 2019-20 campaign — a season worthy of Sixth Man of the Year consideration.
That type of production could greatly help an anemic Bulls bench moving forward, as would Snell, who, while decidedly unsexy, is still a moderately dependable 3-and-D wing. The Bulls were badly wanting for someone of that distinction all season.
Meanwhile, Satoransky keeps the Pistons competent at backup lead guard, Hutchison could find opportunity on the wing, Felicio’s deal expires after this season and two second round picks roughly match their haul for Andre Drummond. Hutch’s deal has a club option at the end of 2020-21, too, and Satoransky’s third season (2021-22) is non-guaranteed. Not horrible for a team in tear-it-down mode and with a new front office regime taking root.
Bulls receive: Jake Layman
Timberwolves receive: Luke Kornet, 2021 second-round pick (swap with NOP)
Outside of a sign-and-trade for Malik Beasley or Juancho Hernangomez — which gets sticky — Layman is the closest thing to a meaningful upgrade on the wing for the Bulls, while Karl-Anthony Towns and D’Angelo Russell are probably close to untouchable for Minnesota at the moment — or at least close enough to it that it makes no difference.
Layman’s 3-point shooting remains largely theoretical, and he’s coming off a season where he missed 41 games with a toe injury. But the floor-stretching potential and proven slashing ability would make him an asset to the Bulls and a natural fit for the team’s intended style of play. A modicum of big depth in Kornet and a second-rounder might be enough to nab him, depending on how the free agencies of Beasley and Hernangomez unravel.
Bulls receive: Kevin Love, Kevin Porter Jr.
Cavaliers receive: Otto Porter Jr., Lauri Markkanen
This is more a thought experiment than anything.
For the Bulls: Is selling low on Markkanen (but in a contract year) worth possibly a year or two of an almost-guaranteed 18 points and 10 rebounds per game with high 30s 3-point shooting, solid passing and veteran steadiness from Love, which could augment the team’s already existing pieces? Are the flashes of defensive intensity and shot creation Kevin Porter Jr. showed at the end of 2019-20 transferable into a long-term future on the wing?
And for the Cavaliers: Well, who are we kidding. The Cavs do this in a heartbeat. It gets them out from under the last three years of Love’s weighty contract, and Markkanen — despite third-year regression — remains a much better prospect than Porter. The only question would be taking on a guy in Markkanen who you’d have to decide on a long-term contract for within months of trading acquiring him. But anything is better than Cleveland’s long-term outlook right now.
For those reasons, it’s hard to see the Bulls pulling the trigger on a move like this, or any of its ilk, given the new management regime’s level-headed reputation. Flipping Markkanen now would inevitably yield the lowest possible value for him, taking on Love mucks up their books long-term and skirting Porter’s $28.5 million player option in a year the Bulls will already likely be over the cap simply isn’t worth the cost of doing business. Plus, though Porter was absent most of 2019-20, this deal would leave the Bulls with only a slightly undersized Kevin Porter Jr. (6-foot-4) and an unproven Chandler Hutchison on the wing for 2020-21, which could offset any win bump Love might bring.
Kris Dunn sign-and-trades
Bulls receive: 2020 second-round pick, possible salary filler
Warriors or Hawks receive: Kris Dunn
Wherever the salary cap lands in the post-coronavirus climate, the Warriors are likely to be cap-strapped. They were up against the apron last summer, and Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Andrew Wiggins and Draymond Green’s contracts account for roughly $130 million for next season, as of this writing.
So, Golden State will be looking to cut costs, if anything, especially if it ends up retaining its high lottery pick and his rookie-scale first-year figure. But if the Dubs wind up in the market for a mid-level exception candidate, inking Kris Dunn in a S&T to be a defensive buzzsaw off the bench might make a modicum of sense. That MLE figure (~$5.7 million for tax-paying teams in 2019-20) will inevitably be lower than Dunn’s new and improved qualifying offer of $7.1 million, but Dunn might still choose a lower annual figure for semi-long-term security, coming off a sprained MCL sustained on Jan. 31 (or the Bulls might not even extend the QO). If too tight against the apron again, sending Kevon Looney back as filler could get a deal done; if not, Golden State could absorb Dunn into the massive trade exception they generated from trading Andre Iguodala last summer.
Atlanta, conversely, is in no such salary cap hell. And Dunn could help them tremendously. Coming off an All-Defense-caliber season, Dunn deployed in a defensive specialist role in spurts for the young and rebuilding squad could be a welcome infusion of energy, and the Hawks are one of the few teams in the NBA with cap space to work with.
For the Bulls, getting a second-rounder back from either team for a guy in Dunn who — while a useful player — probably doesn’t make sense to invest in long-term, would be worth it.