Business partners to call if the Chicago Bulls want to make a big splash (Part I)

Continuity is likely on the cards for the Chicago Bulls for another offseason. I know… yes!

But what if the organization opts for the blind move? There’s no denying that they have two assets that a handful of competitive NBA teams would covet. So I thought we might as well take a closer look at some of that equipment.

By the way, the plan is to do this in a couple of parts. If there’s information you’d like me to include in the next two issues, please let me know! For now, here are three teams that might want to do business with Chicago if they made Zach LaVine or DeMar DeRozan available this summer.

The New York Knicks

Few teams are currently in a better position to make a big trade than the New York Knicks. Arguably the biggest reason for this is its deep arsenal of first-round capital. Between the 2023 and 2029 NBA Draft, New York has six of his possible seven first-round picks (note: you can only trade pickup futures up to seven years from now). The next 2023 pick belongs to Portland after acquiring Josh Hart at this year’s deadline.

On top of that, the Knicks have FOUR other first-rounders with different protections they can still stream:

– Protected selection of the top 11 of 2024 through DAL
– 2024 top-13 protected through WAS
– 2024 top-19 protected through DET
– 2025 top-5 protected through MIL

h/t RealGM

In any trade that includes Zach LaVine or DeMar DeRozan, the draft-starved Bulls will seek draft capital in return. The Knicks can easily help fill that void. Likewise, they have some truly intriguing young talent that they can package along with these draft assets.

RJ Barrett is just 22 years old and just finished off a decent playoff run in which he averaged 19.3 points per game. While he’s still struggled to score efficiently at times, he’s still a developing player with an encouraging two-way skill set. All things considered, he’s the kind of young guy you’d happily accept in a comeback package for a veteran All-Star.

Immanuel Quickley is another name who has made big strides in every season of his career. He’s just averaging a career-high 14.9 points per game to go along with 3.4 assists and 37.0 percent shooting effort from behind the arc. For much of the year, the 23-year-old was legitimately in the Sixth Man of the Year conversation. Throw in other names like Quentin Grimes, Obi Toppin and Isaiah Hartenstein, and New York has a pipeline of young players who should be able to become at least solid roleplayers.

Any past connection?

If many.

Apparently, the Knicks have an interest in every available All-Star and his mother. They have been linked to LaVine for years, with the most recent talks reportedly taking place around the past trade deadline. As for DeRozan, a lot of thought went into looking for him during the same free agency he ended up signing with the Bulls.

With all of that in mind, I can see a world where they express at least some interest in continuing to acquire both players. However, LaVine would probably be his preferred target in any conversation, considering his age and his likely fit with a star point guard in Jalen Brunson.

Portland Trail Blazers

Portland Trail Blazers and Chicago Bulls connections have been plentiful in recent weeks and months. The most recent speculation has been surrounding the Trail Blazers’ willingness to trade their No. 3 overall pick. With the remaining goal of building a championship contender around Damian Lillard, trading that coveted pick for top-tier veteran talent appears to be your preferred path. And it’s hard not to wonder if DeRozan or LaVine check that box for Portland.

DeRozan probably won’t be enough at this point in his career to get the talks between the two parties flowing. Perhaps if the Bulls added more like Alex Caruso or Patrick Williams things could progress. LaVine, on the other hand, certainly sounds like the kind of All-Star-level talent coming into his prime who would be a worthy comeback. The main question is whether the adjustment makes sense or not.

Portland tried a backcourt before with Lillard and CJ McCollum. And they ultimately decided to move on from that experiment by trading McCollum to the New Orleans Pelicans. While a LaVine-Lillard combination may be more intriguing, no one can deny that it creates similar concerns, particularly on the defensive end.

With that being the case, it’s no surprise that early reports have suggested that Portland would rather find a defensive-minded end to pair with Lillard. Does that make a conversation involving DeRozan with an all-defensive first-teamer like Caruso any more interesting? Maybe. But names like Pascal Siakam, OG Anunoby or Mikal Bridges might be a better representation of the players they hope to add.

But hey, let’s assume there’s some interest in what Chicago has to offer. Perhaps the fact that they also owe the Bulls a future first-rounder who is significantly hampering his ability to make future moves would prompt them to come to a deal that includes taking that off the books. If they could do that, they would also have all of their own picks between 2023 and 2029 to trade, as well as an additional No. 23 pick from the Knicks.

Plus, Portland arguably has even more attractive young talent than New York. Anfernee Simons is just 23 years old and under contract through 2026. Shadeon Sharpe is the team’s ultra-athletic 2022 lottery pick who showed some really exciting things in his rookie year. Either could be considered a solid addition in case the Bulls want to take a step back and start to restructure. Likewise, getting any of Portland’s unprotected or lightly protected picks wouldn’t feel bad, as they have yet to prove they can be a consistent top-tier threat in the West.

Any past connection?

We mentioned that earlier, but I’ll also point out that Portland was reportedly interested in LaVine when he entered unrestricted free agency last summer. Also, LaVine is from Seattle, so he would be close to home.

los angeles lakers

The Los Angeles Lakers have been thirsty for DeMar DeRozan and Zach LaVine for years. So is it time to finally do something?

Of the three options we’re discussing today, I’d say this one would make the least sense from the Bulls’ perspective. The main reason for that is simple … the Lakers lack both draft capital and young talent. The team’s only tradeable first-round future right now would be their pick in 2029. While that should be considered a valuable thing since they could be in rebuild mode by then, it would still be a pretty long shot.

This is especially true when you consider that they don’t have a fancy young player to tie up. The best name they could throw into the mix for DeRozan or LaVine would be Austin Reaves. And, don’t get me wrong, Reaves has shown that he is a valuable player this season. But is adding Reaves via sign-and-trade (he’s an FA this summer) plus a 2029 first-rounder enough in the Bulls’ eyes? It definitely wouldn’t be for LaVine. And I don’t know if they would do it for DeRozan when you consider he’s going to want an extension this offseason.

So yeah, I definitely think the Lakers would want to be in this draw if the Bulls went into sell mode. But they just don’t have anything that valuable to offer. I suppose some will ask about Anthony Davis. However, I just don’t see a situation where they would trade it right now. And, if they do, they’ll want a bigger amount than makes sense for the Bulls.

Any past connection?

uh… duh…