Looking ahead to the offseason, the pressure is officially on for the Chicago Bulls to pick a clear direction and make something out of this current core of players. Although the objective may be clear here, having no money to spend in free agency and no draft picks under their control will make this mission orders of magnitude more challenging.
That doesn’t mean the Bulls are completely out of luck, however, as they’re rich in assets that other contending teams would like to jump at on the trade block. Take, for instance, Alex Caruso. Although the team displayed a reluctance to deal away the All-Defensive Team candidate at this past season’s trade deadline, they may reconsider their options as they’ll be forced to commit even more money to an already crowded backcourt rotation this summer.
“Anybody would be lying if they said they don’t know about them or are unaware of [the trade rumors],” Caruso said earlier this season ahead of the February trade deadline, “I fully expect to be here.” Despite the high interest in Caruso on the market, the Bulls seemed determined to stick to their guns in the end.
Still, Caruso would undeniably be one of Chicago’s most sought-after assets if they chose to retool, so I can’t say I’m surprised to see he’s already drumming up some interest. Bleacher Report’s Grant Hughes agrees, citing the Dallas Mavericks as a team that should get involved with a big trade to return to championship contention.
Rather than rebuilding or committing to continuity, retooling may be the best move the Chicago Bulls could make with this proposed trade.
Landing a top-10 draft pick in this year’s class would be a big deal for the Bulls, especially considering this year’s class looks to be particularly loaded while next season (the year Chicago actually has their pick) isn’t generating much buzz quite yet.
It’s important to note that if this trade were to go through, Dallas would need to stay right at No. 10, because if they slip a spot in the lotto then their pick conveys to the Knicks, and if they jump into the top four they will obviously look for a better deal. Fortunately, the Mavericks have a 65.9% chance of staying right where they are.
"The Caruso deal hinges on Dallas keeping its first-rounder, which won’t be the case if it falls outside the top 10 on May 16 when the lottery is held. The Bulls would also have to embrace a more future-focused mentality to consider giving up such a valuable vet for a late lottery pick, although Bullock and his career 38.4 percent knockdown rate from deep could help a win-now version of the Bulls improve a dead-last ranking in three-point attempts."
Don’t be mistaken, Reggie Bullock isn’t included in this trade as filler either. He’s actually proven to be quite the productive role player when given the opportunity, and he would help address arguably this team’s greatest need in shooting. Restructuring the team to fix the NBA’s worst three-point shooting team is an absolute must this offseason; however, the Bulls won’t have the money to add shooters in free agency, so getting it done here via trade is a savvy move and could likely be a net positive decision, even if Caruso is a better player than Bullock in a vacuum.
Making a move like this instantly solves the backcourt logjam and grants Coby White and Ayo Dosunmu the minutes they need to shine, it adds a serious outside threat to a team that needs it more than anyone, and allows the Bulls to finally bolster an impressive young core by adding another cost-controlled asset for a team that wants to remain beneath the tax line.
I love watching Caruso play for the Bulls, but if the Mavericks come knocking and offer a package of this caliber, I’d be hard-pressed to turn them away. It’s a rarity for me to admit this, but I think B/R was spot-on in their Bulls trade proposal this time — even if the thought of dealing Caruso away hurts too much for me to give this an outright ‘A’.