Now that the trade deadline has come and passed, now is the time for teams around the league to lock in and put their full focus on pursuing the postseason. At least, that’s what you’d expect to be the case, but it didn’t take long for Bleacher Report to begin suggesting trades to help the Chicago Bulls rebuild over the summer.
Although I’m still holding out hope the Bulls can redeem their season and make a push over these last 20 games, I can’t say I’m surprised to see the vultures already beginning to circle overhead. If Chicago does indeed make DeMar DeRozan available, it would make sense for a team like the Knicks to make a move for the t.
Since acquiring Jalen Brunson over the summer, he’s made for a borderline All-Star pairing alongside Julius Randle and has the Knicks looking like the best version of themselves in a decade. Adding a third genuine All-Star caliber player like DeRozan could be just what they need to sneak into the championship contention conversation.
If the Chicago Bulls fail to finish the year strong, this proposed trade by B/R will only be the first of many for teams interested in DeMar DeRozan.
I’d like to start by saying I don’t actually hate the idea of this trade. Although it’s likely to meet a fair amount of vitriol at first glance among Bulls fans, there is some merit to the idea.
Former 8th overall pick Obi Toppin is bound to look better on a team that hasn’t buried him behind an offensive black hole in Julius Randle, and I firmly believe Isaiah Hartenstein is a borderline starting-caliber center that would be a great addition for Chicago. RJ Barrett is, well… RJ Barrett. He’s undoubtedly the biggest draw for the Bulls from this trade, but whether or not he can evolve as a player and develop even a modicum of consistency on the court is still a massive question mark.
Here’s how B/R’s Zach Buckley justified the trade for the Bulls.
"As for the Bulls, these final few months could hammer home the point this organization needs a reset—if not a total teardown. Either way, their inability to join the championship race should have them seeking out alternatives this summer, when Nikola Vučević enters free agency and DeRozan approaches the final season on his contract.Chicago could be intrigued by this package regardless if it’s looking to retool around Zach LaVine or rebuild around Patrick Williams. Barrett is 22 years old, Obi Toppin is 24, and both were recent top-10 picks. Neither has exactly aced his development, but neither has shown anything so worrisome to suggest they’ll never approach their full potential, either.Isaiah Hartenstein, who is also 24, and he could step into the starting center spot if the Bulls let Vučević walk."
I’m glad Buckley mentioned Barrett and Toppin’s failure to develop their games, as this is where my endorsement for the duo ends. It’s impossible to know if Barrett or Toppin will ever actually realize their potential on paper, or if Hartenstein can actually hold down the five for 30+ minutes per night. Trading two known and highly-sought after commodities for what is essentially a mystery box feels incredibly foolish.
DeRozan will undoubtedly be an interesting asset to teams who believe they’re just one step away from title contention over the summer and again at next year’s trade deadline. The Bulls can and likely will move him for future assets if next season isn’t going as planned instead of just letting him walk in free agency for nothing.
As for Caruso, Steve Kerr already made it quite clear just how championship-caliber teams around the league view his skill set. On an extremely team-friendly deal for the next two and a half seasons, the Bulls would be fools to move Caruso now for anything short of at least one promising prospect and a first-round pick.
If the Bulls were interested in moving DeRozan and Caruso, they’d most likely prefer draft capital in exchange so they can personally scout things out and pick “their guy”, rather than gambling everything on someone else’s potential draft mistake.
If this package were for just DeRozan and salary filler, perhaps you could justify pulling the trigger over the summer to retool around LaVine and the young core. But throwing Caruso in there as well is just a gross undervaluation of Chicago’s assets here. This hypothetical deal would likely have the fanbase up in arms if were to actually go through.