Far from the only team to suffer a disappointing end to their season, the Chicago Bulls are now finally joined by the teams whose postseason dreams were cut short this year, including the Phoenix Suns. Still reeling from a stinging six-game loss to the Denver Nuggets, the Suns are likely to introduce a massive roster overhaul this offseason, a decision which would undoubtedly open up opportunities for a team like the Bulls to take advantage.
Per Heavy Sports, one anonymous NBA GM has already pegged the Bulls as a potential frontrunner in the pursuit of Deandre Ayton this summer, “It is a tough market for trading centers, though. They are about to find that out. The team that might be the most interesting getting into that mix is Chicago, and I’ve heard he’s on the list, at least. Lot still depends on the (draft) lottery.”
Ayton isn’t the only current member of the Suns on Chicago’s watch list, however, as recent developments have Chris Paul‘s face popping up all over Bulls fan pages on Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, and more. After failing to be a factor in their decisive postseason loss, Phoenix is expected to part ways with the future Hall of Famer this offseason.
This isn’t pure speculation either, as ESPN’s Tim McMahon has corroborated this news. Under the new ownership of Mat Ishbia, we can expect big changes coming to the Suns franchise as a whole this summer, and trading CP3 would make for quite the unexpected twist after winning 64 games and making a Western Conference Finals run just one year ago.
If the Chicago Bulls wish to make a major change this offseason, pursuing the Suns’ pair of stars may be enough to get this team back on track.
Moving forward, putting the best team possible around LaVine to help him succeed has to be the priority. Sean Deveney reports as much in his article for Heavy Sports, “Chicago, according to league sources, is open to reshaping its roster with guard Zach LaVine as the clear No. 1 go-to option.”
On paper, trading for Ayton would make a lot of sense for the Bulls, which is precisely why they were heavily linked as a sign-and-trade candidate for the big man before he ultimately re-upped with Phoenix on a max contract last summer.
As arguably the worst rebounding team in the NBA, adding Ayton would significantly help improve the Bulls’ margins on the boards, improve the interior defense, and finally give this team a legitimate pick-and-roll threat to maximize the playmaking of Zach LaVine and DeMar DeRozan.
Similarly, adding Chris Paul makes a lot of sense if the Bulls want a truly great playmaker, instead of a pair of ‘pretty good’ playmakers in Zach and DeMar. This team has desperately been searching for a Lonzo Ball stopgap until he can return fully healthy, so trading for a player whose contract is unguaranteed and can be canceled by the team at any time would be a wise move for the Bulls.
Of course, there are still obstacles to getting this deal done. If these players were the clear answers that any contender would desire, then they probably wouldn’t be on the trade block in the first place. The fact of the matter remains that CP3 is 38 years old and is certainly not getting any younger, and Ayton’s attitude issues are a very real problem that isn’t likely to be solved by a Bulls team that has repeatedly struggled with accountability issues.
Still, it’s difficult to ignore the fact that a half-baked solution may be better than no solution at this point. With Nikola Vucevic hitting unrestricted free agency and updates on the status of Lonzo Ball being anything but positive, the point guard and center positions are still a complete question mark for a franchise that has struggled to fill either role with a long-term piece since 2016.
With Ayton, you get that long-term piece worth investing in. Presumably building around a young core of Coby White, Patrick Williams, and Ayton with LaVine at the helm isn’t all that bad of an outlook, if you ask me. With Paul around to set his teammates up, we’d maybe even get to see just what Coby and Pat are capable of when given a longer leash. It’s a risk, to be sure, but it might just be a risk worth taking for the Chicago Bulls this summer.