Revisiting 3 awful Russell Westbrook to the Bulls trade proposals

Russell Westbrook, Alex Caruso, Chicago Bulls (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)
Russell Westbrook, Alex Caruso, Chicago Bulls (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images) /
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Between the years after Derrick Rose was dealt away in 2016, and before the team acquired a wealth of guard talent like Lonzo Ball, Alex Caruso, and Ayo Dosunmu in 2021, the point guard position was becoming increasingly problematic for the Chicago Bulls. Several years of failed projects led many fans down a dark path where the only light they could see was a potential trade target — Russell Westbrook.

Although Chicago never did trade for Westbrook in reality, hypothetical trade proposals for the former MVP occupied the minds of beleaguered Bulls fans for years. Knowing what we now know, expending the assets and money necessary to acquire Westbrook would have been an unequivocal disaster.

In light of the injury concerns surrounding Ball and the future of the point guard position in Chicago, I thought I’d take a trip down a trip down memory lane for a reminder that things could always be worse. At least the Bulls never accepted any of these terrible Westbrook trade ideas.

It may seem ridiculous in hindsight, but many Chicago Bulls fans were prepared to pay a king’s ransom for Russell Westbrook just a few years ago.

DeMar DeRozan, Russell Westbrook, Chicago Bulls
DeMar DeRozan, Russell Westbrook, Chicago Bulls (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images) /

3. Bulls spurn DeRozan and Lonzo in favor of Westbrook

I do appreciate how this proposal, unlike the other two trade packages on this list, at least attempts to give the Bulls a fair deal. However, it’s quite funny looking back in retrospect about just how badly this deal would have backfired.

"“In return for Westbrook, the Wizards could ask for some solid assets, but regardless, it wouldn’t be a massive haul when considering the size of his contract. This would be more of a salary dump in the event that Bradley Beal were to ask to be traded… As for the Bulls, showing Zach LaVine they are serious about winning at a high-level is a top priority.”"

As you can see, the author Greg Patuto of NBA Analysis Network was at least well-intentioned in his logic and reasoning for each team. It’s clear that the Chicago Bulls needed to do something to prove to Zach LaVine that they were serious about winning, it’s just fortunate that those plans didn’t involve trading for Westbrook.

Pulling a trigger on a trade like this would have ultimately prevented the Bulls from trading for both DeMar DeRozan and Lonzo Ball down the line, as Thaddeus Young and Tomas Satoransky were essential price-matching pieces in each trade. As we have now seen, Westbrook’s exorbitant salary is virtually immovable at his price tag and could never have facilitated the great moves Chicago’s front office made last summer.

It’s also worth noting that trading away the 38th pick also means the Bulls wouldn’t have been able to draft fan favorite Ayo Dosunmu. It goes without saying that having DeRozan, Ball, and Dosunmu is a much preferable alternative to Westbrook alone, so I’m thankful that this was never a package the Bulls seriously considered.

As bad as this outcome is, it still pales in comparison to the next two on this list, and only even looks this bad in the first place because Dosunmu massively outperformed expectations for a 38th pick. If it were Daniel Gafford — 2019’s No. 38 overall pick — in Ayo’s place, this deal wouldn’t look nearly as lopsided, regardless if Westbrook’s fit on the Bulls would have still been highly questionable.