Pros and cons of Bulls emerging as Rudy Gobert trade destination

DeMar DeRozan, Rudy Gobert, Chicago Bulls (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)
DeMar DeRozan, Rudy Gobert, Chicago Bulls (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images) /

While the NBA Finals are still in full swing, the offseason rumor mill seems to already be revving up and hungry for more news. Among the most interesting stories so far is the apparent implosion of the Utah Jazz as head coach Quin Snyder stepped down, Donovan Mitchell reportedly left feeling “unnerved,” and Rudy Gobert is being named as a potential trade candidate. Suitors may already be lining up for Gobert’s services, including even the Chicago Bulls.

While Bulls president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas may have intended Nikola Vucevic to be the franchise center moving forward when he traded for the Montenegrin big man in 2019, that doesn’t mean the plan has been set in stone. Considering Vucevic has struggled to adjust to becoming a third option on offense, it might make more sense to exchange him for someone a little more defensively oriented.

When it comes to defensive specialists down low, you won’t find any better than Gobert. The three-time Defensive Player of the Year and six-time All-Defensive Team member has earned a reputation as one of the most prolific shot blockers and dominant defensive presences in NBA history.

For a player who has yet to even turn 30 years old, Gobert has arguably already compiled a Hall of Fame level career. He’s alongside other legendary centers Dikembe Mutombo, Ben Wallace, and Dwight Howard as the only players to ever win three or more DPOY awards, with plenty of time left to add a fourth to his collection.

Likely due to that premier characteristic of his, Kevin O’Connor of The Athletic has reported the Bulls are among those inquiring about Gobert.

"“Sources have also indicated the Bulls are a team with interest in Gobert (and other centers on the market, including Knicks free agent Mitchell Robinson).”"

Bulls rumors: Rudy Gobert a possible trade candidate?

If the reports are true, it would signal a dramatic shift in plans from Chicago’s front office. Owed up to $170 million over the next four seasons, Gobert is one of the highest-paid players in the NBA and would require a significant commitment to building a team around his defensive presence.

Should Gobert join the Bulls, they’d undoubtedly become a better team. He has shown no signs of slowing down as his career progresses, as he led the league in rebounds this season and has maintained the highest field goal percentage in the NBA over the last two seasons.

Chicago presents an interesting fit for Gobert, as he has consistently led the Jazz to an incredible team record despite having a worse all-around supporting cast.

At this time, a healthy Lonzo Ball is a preferable playmaking point guard to Mike Conley. Zach LaVine is as good (or better) than Donovan Mitchell. Patrick Williams oozes potential and is a clear upgrade over Royce O’Neale. And DeMar DeRozan is so far superior to Bojan Bogdanovic that it’s not even worth even discussing. You could also even argue that Alex Caruso, Ayo Dosunmu, and Javonte Green are all better than any member of Utah’s bench.

If Gobert was able to lead the Jazz to the NBA’s best record in 2021 with that core of teammates, it’s an enticing thought to imagine what he’d be capable of with two All-NBA-caliber teammates at his side. He would immediately address the Bulls’ greatest weakness (interior defense) while allowing LaVine and DeRozan to shoulder the offensive load.

However, it’s worth considering the massive financial obligation and luxury tax implications that Gobert would bring with him in this hypothetical scenario. Chicago would essentially be locked into this core with no real way to add depth or further improve after adding Gobert.

For that reason, it may be worth waiting this season out to see if Vucevic can bounce back or, if all else fails, let Vucevic’s contract expire to provide additional flexibility next season. But if the Bulls believe Gobert makes them a legitimate title contender, there’s certainly a reasonable deal that can be struck for him, even though it might take a lot of work.

Next. 3 things the Bulls learned from the 2022 season. dark