Jae Crowder could be sneaky good trade target for Bulls

Jae Crowder, Chicago Bulls (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Jae Crowder, Chicago Bulls (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

Until the drama surrounding NBA superstars Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and Donovan Mitchell dies down for the summer, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to ignore all the ways the Chicago Bulls could improve by swinging an impactful trade ahead of the 2022-23 season. We’ve discussed a plethora of potential options for Chicago’s front office here already, but an interesting new option in the form of Jae Crowder seems to have emerged earlier this month.

Crowder sparked concern amongst Suns fans with a cryptic tweet sent at the onset of August. This seemed to come in direct response to the Kevin Durant trade rumors and how Crowder could very likely be an outgoing piece in a potential trade to bring KD to Phoenix.

Whether the Bulls trade for him straight up or move for the veteran forward as the third party in a larger three-team trade, the thought of seeing Crowder in a Bulls uniform is certainly an enticing idea.

If Jae Crowder is indeed on his way out of Phoenix, he’d be a fantastic addition for the Chicago Bulls in a potential trade scenario.

Of all the ways the Chicago Bulls could potentially acquire a player that would make Patrick Williams actually have to fight for his starting power forward spot, these propositions usually fall into one of two categories:

  1. The player in question is too valuable for the Bulls to realistically trade for, or
  2. The player in question isn’t good enough to challenge the front office’s favorite prospect for big minutes

Crowder is the rare exception to these two “rules”, as he’s proven he has the skills necessary to play a large role for a championship-caliber team. Even if the Bulls didn’t start him outright, you can be sure he’d see at minimum 25 minutes per night off the bench.

This is precisely the problem the Suns are running into, as Cameron Johnson has progressed far enough to put him on par with Crowder while both players prepare for a contract year. Given Johnson is much younger and can help keep Phoenix’s window open longer, it makes sense that they’d look to trade away Crowder instead.

Phoenix Suns Expert Peter O’Keefe over at Valley of the Suns seems all too aware of this fact, as he outlines three players he’d like to see the team swap Crowder. His list includes all guards: Alec Burks, Monte Morris, and Josh Hart. Fortunately, the Bulls have a guard on the trade block who is already at the level of these three role players and has the potential to keep improving in Coby White.

With Coby’s contract also set to expire, the Chicago Bulls would benefit greatly by swinging a trade for the sharpshooter before he signs an offer sheet in restricted free agency. Chicago will almost certainly not match a hefty offer sheet in the future, meaning the clock is ticking to extract value from his perceived youth and potential.

The Suns — who are desperately searching for an upgrade over Cam Payne in the reserve unit’s backcourt — would benefit immensely by swapping Crowder for a young score-first guard. Chris Paul has had to shoulder far too much of the load in the regular season, so making a move like this would not only ensure that Cameron Johnson gets his due in the starting rotation, but also that CP3 will be fully rested and prepared for a playoff run.

The Bulls, on the other hand, would finally secure a player on the wing who is a plus defender both on the wing and the perimeter. Crowder matches up well against size and still has the agility to switch onto guards in pick-and-roll sets beyond the arc. Crowder’s shot is streaky, but when he’s hot, he’s hot. He shot 38.9% from deep for the Suns in 2020-21 and an insane 44.5% in 20 games for the Miami Heat in 2019-20.

His shooting did indeed dip to 34.8% last season, but it’s hard to attribute so much to any one particular campaign with all the roster instabilities that the COVID-19 pandemic caused around the league. If anything, now is the perfect time to buy low on his services, given the recent drop in performance. Even if he never becomes a sharpshooter who exceeds 40% from deep again, at least a 4.5 career mark of 3-point attempts per game proves he’s an aggressive offensive option who won’t back down from taking the big shot. However, the same could not be said for current Bulls’ power forward Williams.

I’m still expecting a big jump from Williams this season that would make a move like this unnecessary in the long run. Heck, I’m practically counting on it. But even so, it would be nice to have a player around that could finally light a fire under Pat and force him to become the best version of himself if he wants to stick around for good. So for that reason, you can go ahead and toss Crowder onto my wishlist at power forward during next season’s trade negotiations.

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