Chicago Bulls: Breaking down a potential Rudy Gobert trade package

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

Active in both during the 2021 offseason and 2022 trade deadline periods, it hasn’t taken long for the Chicago Bulls to once again get heavily involved in the rumor mill. The latest subject of their fascination is Utah’s defensive powerhouse Rudy Gobert, a prime candidate to fix the Bulls’ awful interior defense.

Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer was the first to report on the Bulls’ reported interest in Gobert, among other centers. This has led many to wonder just what a trade package bringing the French big man to the Windy City would even begin to look like.

To begin constructing a deal of this magnitude, it’s a good idea to establish a baseline for how much value these players have around the league. As you may recall, the Bulls received Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn, and the ability to move up nine spots in the draft in return for Jimmy Butler in 2017.

More recently, the Nets exchanged superstar guard James Harden for Philadelphia’s Ben Simmons, Seth Curry, and two first-round picks as the core return package.

The Bulls are a team worth watching as a potential trade partner for Rudy Gobert

Both Butler and Harden were seen as more valuable players than Gobert at the time of these trades, which is something to consider when evaluating the big man’s market value. While I’m sure both sides will fiercely negotiate the asking price, I believe this is the fairest and probably most realistic trade package for Gobert you’ll see either side settle on.

It’s possible that Tony Bradley or Marko Simonovic may also be worked into this deal to even out the financial aspect, but these players listed above would be the core package in a Gobert-to-the-Bulls trade. The Jazz will almost certainly lobby to receive Patrick Williams in this deal — or perhaps even Lonzo Ball — but that would be a shortsighted decision based on the player Gobert currently is, not who he soon will be.

Gobert is also owed $170 million over the next four years, a substantial pile of cash that most teams would be hesitant to offer even if he was a free agent. When you factor in the additional assets the Bulls would need to dole out to acquire Gobert, it makes no sense to give up the team’s future for an aging big man.

We’ve seen more than enough to know that Utah’s duo of Donovan Mitchell and Gobert isn’t enough to win a championship. It makes much more sense for the Jazz to offload Gobert’s enormous contract and redirect the franchise to see what Mitchell can do when paired next to a floor spacer like Nikola Vucevic.

Even if that doesn’t work out, they’ll at least still have a quality young player and two draft picks to fall back on. The Jazz are unlikely to get a better offer than this from any other team in the league, so they’ll either have to live with it or face the consequences of running back the same core for the sixth year in a row.

When you look at similar situations around the league, the teams that refuse to give up on their young talent more often than not end up feeling like they made the right decision. Dejounte Murray, Tyrese Maxey, Shai Gilegous-Alexander, Jordan Poole, Robert Williams, and PJ Washington are just a handful of players recently involved in trade rumors that have gone on to reward their team’s faith in them. I see no reason to give up on Pat so early when he has so much room to grow here with the Bulls.

Fair trades have to make sense for both sides and require each team to take on moderate risk. For the Bulls, giving up Williams in a trade for Gobert solves one problem by creating another. Chicago would lose their most promising prospect in this exchange and have no one left on the roster who could play power forward full-time.

Gobert, as massively talented as he is, isn’t held in high regard among several of the league’s top executives. The current train of thought is that he can be schemed around and made redundant in the playoffs. I do believe Chicago is better equipped to make use of Gobert’s skill set than the Jazz are, but that doesn’t mean this isn’t still a very risky decision.

Utah will ultimately be penalized in any trade talks for Gobert due to his prohibitive contract, regardless if he’s dealt to the Bulls or another team. While they don’t have to accept Chicago’s offer, this fact is just a harsh reality they are going to have to accept something of lesser value.

For the Bulls, however, this is a risky gambit that could genuinely elevate this team to title contender status. A starting five of Lonzo, LaVine, DeRozan, Williams, and Gobert would certainly rank among the NBA’s elite. But if the Bulls fail to reach that lofty benchmark as a contender, they’ll be locked into paying an aging core with almost no draft picks for the next half-decade.

For that reason, it’s easy to see why so many people are split on whether or not they’d like to see Gobert in a red and white jersey.

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