I was literally about to write the sentence “It’s been a quiet lead up to the NBA trade deadline,” when the news broke that Houston, Minnesota, Atlanta and Denver made a massive 12 player swap. Even if that ends up being the only trade made before today’s deadline, it will still have sent a shock wave through the entire league. The big take away from this trade: Houston gets Robert Covington and has no center, Atlanta gets Clint Capela to play pick-and-roll with Trae Young, Minnesota gets draft picks to trade to Golden State for D’Angelo Russell, and Denver sheds salary (I think) while retooling their bench.
But what does this mean for the Bulls?
Probably nothing, except now they’ll have to contend with Capela every time they play the Atlanta Hawks.
The Bulls Front Office have been their typical tight lipped selves. Not a peep has come from GarPax on whether or not they will be buyers, sellers, or stand pat at the deadline. It’s no secret that Thaddeus Young and Denzel Valentine wouldn’t mind a change of scenery. Finding trade partners to accommodate the two of them might be a little harder.
There are plenty of teams that could use Thadd Young, but it’s a matter of what they’d have to give up to get him.
What the Bulls do before this trade deadline will have more to do with the taciturn emotions of John Paxson than the whims of a disgruntled player or two. How upset is Paxson that this Bulls team has not lived up to expectations?
The Bulls were supposed to be better than this. Between Otto Porter Jr’s bloated contract, Felicio’s dead money, the not inexpensive free agent acquisitions of Young and Tomas Satoransky, not to mention the unnecessary re-signing of Ryan Arcidiacono, the Front Office has spent some money on this team. You’ll notice I didn’t include Zach LaVine’s contract into the mix, and that’s because he has been worth every penny of his $19.something million per year contract.
I already did a post about the trade deadline about a month ago, so I won’t rehash old ground. But what I will say is that if it were up to me, at this moment I would hang onto Zach, Lauri Markkanen, Daniel Gafford and Wendell Carter Jr. I would aggressively shop Sato, Thadd, Kris Dunn, Coby White, and Porter. If you can get anything for Denzel Valentine, Luke Kornet, and/or Chandler Hutchison, well, beggars can’t be choosers. And I’m pretty sure nobody is lining up to ask about Ryan Arcidiacono, Shaq Harrison, and Cristiano Felicio, but if they do GarPax need to pounce.
One of the most underrated aspects of the Front Office is Paxson’s competitiveness. He doesn’t like to lose. As whispers of a Front Office shake up begin to surface, I wonder if Paxson will start to manifest his frustration with the roster he built by trading as many of the disappointments as he can. I don’t think Paxson is that emotionally unhinged that it would be a full blown fire sale, but we’ve seen his impatience before *Cough – Dwayne Wade – Cough.*
I wonder about the future of Lauri Markkanen. I was surprised when he was shut down out of caution for his pelvic stress reaction. It almost sounds fake, like the Bulls had seen enough and just wanted him off the court for a while. It’s not a fake injury, and the pelvic bone is not something you mess with. A serious injury to the pelvis or hip can end a career, just ask Bo Jackson. But the timing of the injury was so convenient, lining up with a pre-deadline Thadd Young showcase suspiciously well.
Conspiracy theories aside, Lauri has been disappointing this season and it’s left Paxson with the unenviable choice of sticking with his pick or moving on.
I don’t know if Paxson is frustrated enough to give up on Markkanen, but I do know that desperate times call for desperate measures. If Paxson is fed up enough with this team and the way the rebuild is going, it could very well be Markkanen’s head on the block this afternoon.
The other player that could be moved: Zach LaVine. He was supposed to be the next All-Star and leader of this young team. For the most part he has been exactly that, which makes Zach the most valuable player the Bulls have. He is the only player on this roster that could command multiple 1st round draft picks in a trade, and he has a very in demand skill set, the ability to create his own shot and score from anywhere on the court.
If Paxson were to trade LaVine I think it sets the rebuild back 5 years. Depending on how frustrated Paxson is he might be willing to take that chance. We’ll just have to wait and see how the rest of this day plays out.
Until that trade or any other one involving the Bulls happens, enjoy the wildness of the NBA Trade Deadline, all the rampant speculation (like this post), thanks for reading and GO BULLS!