Why despite owning valuable trade assets, the Bulls dealing for Anthony Davis is unlikely

Why despite owning valuable trade assets, the Bulls dealing for Anthony Davis is unlikely

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski dropped one of his biggest bombs to date on Monday morning when he reported that Pelicans All-Star Anthony Davis wants out of New Orleans. His agent Rich Paul reportedly told the Pelicans that Davis is requesting a trade and has no intention of re-signing with the team in 2020.

Davis, who is currently out with a finger injury, is averaging a career-high 29.3 points and 13.3 rebounds this season. He’s been named an All-Star in each of the last five seasons and has been an All-NBA First Team member three of the last four seasons. He’s one of the most valuable trade chips in the NBA at just 25 years old and will command a steep price for whichever team wants to deal for him.

Wojnarowski reported that Davis wants to play for a winner after suffering through five losing seasons and just one playoff series win in New Orleans.

Before getting into trade packages and which teams can offer the Pelicans the most, it’s important to understand this: the Pelicans are only trading Davis to a team that he will sign an extension with, because it’s an almost guarantee that no team is trading for Davis without a long-term commitment from the 25-year-old. Davis is eligible to sign a five-year, $240 million extension this summer.

This isn’t the Timberwolves trading for Jimmy Butler or the Thunder trading for Paul George or the Raptors trading for Kawhi Leonard. Given the assets that will be needed to acquire one of the game’s best players just about to enter his prime, it’s incredibly unlikely a franchise is going to package together their most valuable assets just to see Davis leave in free agency in the summer of 2020.

Because of that, the leader for Davis’ services right now has to be the Los Angeles Lakers. For starters, Davis wants to win and the Lakers employ LeBron James. Davis and James share an agent in Rich Paul, which makes the courtship even more likely. What’s more, the Lakers have been stockpiling young assets the last five seasons, and while none of them are can’t miss, home run prospects, they’re certainly good enough to entice New Orleans.

A combination of Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, Ivica Zubac and Brandon Ingram would be a starter in any deal, and the Lakers also have all future draft picks, for whatever that’s worth.

Next in line is the Celtics, a team that was hoping these trade discussions would stay dormant until the summer. That’s when Kyrie Irving can opt out of his contract and become a free agent. Both Irving and Davis signed their current contracts under the Rose Rule, named after Derrick Rose hat allows a player to make 30 percent of a team’s salary cap if he’s a two-time All-Star, two-time All-NBA player or an MVP. Teams are only allowed to have one “Rose Rule” contract, meaning Irving and Davis can’t play for the same team this season. Put a different way: any deal between the Celtics and Pelicans before July 1 would need to include Irving, and that seems highly unlikely to happen.

If the Pelicans do stand their ground and wait until the offseason, Boston’s surplus of young assets would be enticing. Jayson Tatum has future All-Star written all over him, while Jaylen Brown, Terry Rozier and, to a lesser degree, Robert Williams and Semi Ojeleye are potential pieces.

The real kicker is Boston’s embarrassment of draft picks: the Celtics have three first round picks in the 2019 NBA Draft (their own, Sacramento’s and the Clippers’) and a future first round pick from Memphis that is top-8 protected this year, top-6 protected in 2020 and unprotected in 2021. With the Grizzlies about to enter a rebuild that pick could be among the highest in 2021, when high-school prospects may be able to bypass college and enter the league, creating a Super-Draft.

Then there’s the Bulls. Any deal for Davis begins with Lauri Markkanen, by far the Bulls’ best asset. Beyond him, their 2019 draft pick could yield a franchise-changing player in Zion Williamson or R.J. Barrett. That’s why the Bulls should also be hoping that no deal gets done before the Feb. 7 trade deadline; the Bulls’ offer gets substantially better on May 14 when the Draft Lottery occurs (or worse if the ping pong balls bounce the wrong way).

Beyond that, Wendell Carter Jr., Zach LaVine and Kris Dunn are also potential pieces to include in the deal. The Pelicans could have their choice of going super young with Carter included in the deal, or taking a more sure bet in LaVine to pair with Jrue Holiday in the backcourt. Dunn has had his struggles in Chicago but is still three years removed from being a top-5 pick. Either way, they’re the smaller pieces of a potential deal after Markkanen and the 2019 first-round pick.

But remember that small caveat? That Davis is only going to sign an extension with a team he feels he can win a title? That could be a real issue. Aside from the fact that Davis reportedly has no desire to play in Chicago, whatever package the Bulls put together is going to decimate their roster. They’ve won 11 games this season and just finished off a week in which they lost to the Hawks and Cavaliers at home.

Yes, they have intriguing young pieces who could form a nice core. But their supporting cast is one of the weakest and shallowest in the league; dealing for Davis while including a combination of Markkanen, Carter and LaVine (plus the 2019 first round pick) guts the Bulls roster. It turns them into the current Pelicans team, middling below .500, lost without Davis in the lineup and going nowhere fast. There’s little reason for Davis to believe the Bulls would be capable of building the same kind of winner he’d find in L.A. with LeBron or in Boston with a perennial winner and one of the game’s best head coach.

Because of all that, despite what the Bulls could potentially offer in a deal, it’s unlikely it happens. There’s always a chance that John Paxson and Gar Forman decide to roll the dice and deal for Davis without the guarantee that he re-signs.

But even that feels a little too far-fetched, especially after they watched that same strategy backfire from the other side of the fence two years ago with the Timberwolves and Jimmy Butler. The assets needed to deal for Davis would be even larger, meaning the loss would be even greater if the Chicago native walked and the Bulls were forced to sell for fewer cents on the dollar than they acquired him for.

Report: Bulls possibly interested in adding Jrue Holiday?


Report: Bulls possibly interested in adding Jrue Holiday?

According to a story by Sporting News NBA writer Sean Deveney, the Bulls may be looking for help in the form of one of the NBA’s better two-way players.

In the post, Deveney goes over the most salient points made by brand new New Orleans Pelicans vice president of basketball operations David Griffin. This included the fact that Griffin stated that Pels head coach Alvin Gentry will be back and that Jrue Holiday is considered “a franchise building block”.

This could be a bit of gamesmanship from Griffin, hoping to drive up the asking price for an All-Star caliber player such as Holiday.

But Deveney suggests that New Orleans may indeed be serious about their efforts to keep building with Holiday on the roster. Deveney stated, “if the Pelicans don't trade Holiday, it will set up the team for an attempt at a fast turnaround rather than a long, slogging rebuild......It will also frustrate teams looking for a versatile point guard in his prime, hoping that Holiday would be on the block.”

Phoenix was mentioned as the “top contender” for Holiday’s services should he be made available, as the Suns are one of the few teams with an obvious hole at PG. Along with the Suns, Chicago and Orlando were the other teams listed as having interest in Holiday. The Magic completed a low-risk trade during the 2018-19 season that landed them 2017 No. 1 overall pick Markelle Fultz, so they may not be inclined to give up solid assets in a deal.

As far as the Bulls are concerned, any serious inquires on Holiday are likely to come after the May 14 NBA Draft lottery.

Depending on where the Bulls lottery pick ends up, the Pelicans could be much more inclined to make a deal with the Chicago front office. The Pelicans ended the season tied with Memphis and Dallas for the 7th spot in the draft lottery odds, and their specific organizational goals could make moving up in the draft order worth losing a valuable player like Jrue Holiday. And for the Bulls, nabbing a player like Holiday helps build onto the positive team culture that Jim Boylen wants to establish and gives the Bulls a perfect guard to pair in the backcourt with Zach LaVine.

Why the Bulls should take Charles Bassey with the No. 38 pick

Why the Bulls should take Charles Bassey with the No. 38 pick

This is the first entry in our "8 for 38" series, where will be looking at eight different under-the-radar NBA prospects that the Bulls could snag with their No. 38 overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft.

Charles Bassey/ 6’11’’/ 275 lbs./ Freshman/ Western Kentucky  

Bassey is a a well-regarded five-star recruit from Nigeria, who played his college ball at Western Kentucky University. He is a physical force on the court but definitely is a raw prospect at this stage of his development.

Bassey came into the season as an assumed first round talent, however, his stock has dropped after his impressive freshman season still revealed holes in his game that will definitely be exploited at the NBA level. All that being said, he was quite the prospect at WKU.


In his lone season at WKU, Bassey averaged 14.6 points and 10.0 rebounds per game on 62.7 percent shooting from the field. His impressive double double average was built on his insane dominance inside the paint.

He shot an astounding 77.4 percent on shots at the rim and that number is even higher on non-post up shots around the basket. Bassey has a rudimentary hook shot that he can hit over his left shoulder but his postgame isn’t the hub of his offense. He generates most of his points by finishing on pick-and-rolls and using his faceup game.

Bassey’s physicality leads to him setting hard screens, and when he doesn’t set a hard screen, he slips to the basket quickly where he takes advantage with his soft touch when looking to score. It is tough for help defenders to knock Bassey off his path when he is rolling to the rim, as his immense lower body strength allows him to displace smaller players.

When Bassey faces up from 15-feet and in, he uses the aforementioned soft touch to convert on 40.8 percent of his 2-PT jump shots per Hoop-Math.com. On top of that, he generally has the speed to blow by most big men.

Bassey’s biggest strength from day one in the NBA will be his motor. He clearly gets fired up for big matchups, as he showcased when he dominated Wisconsin’s Ethan Happ, who ended up winning the 2019 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Award, given by the Basketball Hall of Fame to the country’s best center. In their late December matchup, Bassey helped hold Happ to a very inefficient 20 points on 23 shots.

In that same game Bassey finished with 19 points (7/8 FG, 5/5 FT), 6 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal and 4 blocks. He has arguably had better games, but the all-around versatility showcased in the stat line above is outstanding.

Bassey has flashed the ability to make nice passes before:

Since Bassey’s NBA offense will be centered around pick-and-roll plays, further developing his decision making on the short-roll will be a boon to whatever team drafts him.

On defense, Bassey already shows the ability to be an asset in the right system. When he is allowed to play in a traditional defensive system that has the center dropping back in pick-and-roll coverage, he swallows up shots with his 7-foot-3 wingspan.


The gigantic weakness Bassey showcased this season was an inability to function as a switch defender. He was great when it comes to protecting the rim--he averaged 2.4 blocks per game-- but he was consistently beat off the dribble by guards.

Of course it is rare to find any center--let alone a young one--that has the legitimate ability to function at a high-level when it comes to switching on to smaller, faster players. But that is precisely what makes Bassey the exact type of center you can find easily.

This is why a player of his talent level can slip into the second round.

Another big issue for Bassey is hands, or more specifically, the inability to hold on to passes when diving to the rim. As mentioned above, pick-and-roll and pick-and-pop basketball is how Bassey will carve out a niche in the league. But he occasionally struggled to hold on to the ball on throws that many would not even consider to be “tough passes”.

In the above strengths section it is mentioned how Bassey has some untapped potential as a passer, but he will never cash in on that potential if simply possessing the ball is a difficulty for him. He isn’t as explosive as usual if there are multiple defenders crowding him and raking at the ball, which happens often.

Over 1,067 minutes Basey amassed 24 assists as compared to a whopping 97 turnovers.

Long term outlook:

I believe Bassey will have a long NBA career due to his finishing in the paint and ability to block shots.

Bassey ran roughshod over his mostly Conference USA opposition on the season.

His 62.7 percent shooting from the field and 3.0 blocks per 40 minutes were a few of the many things that showed that Bassey is at least ready for the physicality of the NBA.

But to become much more than a solid journeyman center, Bassey will have to hone his perimeter jump shot to the point that he can become a solid 3-point threat. He shot 45 percent on a very limited 20 attempts from 3-point range and converted on 76.9 percent of his free throws, an enticing set of numbers that show the type of player he could be in the future.

Whether or not Robin Lopez stays, the Bulls will be short on center depth next season.  After Wendell Carter Jr. went down for the remainder of the 2018-19 season, we saw the Bulls play ultra-small lineups that got beat up on the glass often as Jim Boylen was still reluctant to play Felicio more than 15 minutes per game.

Adding a high-upside prospect like Bassey helps Boylen and co. avoid over-using lineups with Lauri Markkanen at center, which helps keep Markkanen fresh and theoretically improves the overall team defense.