Although much of the discussion in recent days has revolved around the potential availability of Deandre Ayton, the former No. 1 overall pick isn’t the only current member of the Phoenix Suns worth our attention. If the Chicago Bulls play their cards right, trading for a player like Chris Paul could drastically alter this team’s odds of contention next season.
I can’t pretend this is the first time Paul has been brought up in discussion as a potential solution for the Bulls. Ever since his stint with the Houston Rockets ended unsuccessfully, Paul has been repeatedly been linked to Chicago. This is no coincidence, as barring the first half of last season, the Bulls have continually struggled to field a roster with a competent point guard at the helm for nearly a decade.
Aside from the obvious hole he’d fill as a great fit for the Bulls, it’s hard to ignore how pre-existing relationships would make many fans think about how Chris Paul in Chicago would actually look.
One team’s trash could become another team’s treasure if the Chicago Bulls add Chris Paul in a big trade with the Phoenix Suns.
1. The Bulls desperately need a playmaker
It’s no secret the Bulls have had a time distributing the ball since losing Lonzo Ball 35 games into the 2021-22 season, but it’s an issue they’ve failed to overcome ever since. Chicago ranked 20th as a team in assists per game, with DeMar DeRozan leading the roster in assists with just 5.1 per game. There’s nothing wrong with playing a pass-heavy offense where everyone shares the load, but the reality is much of the Bulls’ offense is comprised of standing far away while DeRozan and Zach LaVine handle business.
It should be noted that it’s not entirely necessary for the Bulls to trade for Paul to secure a great playmaker. After all, I projected (way too early) that Mike Conley could emerge as a potential candidate for Chicago’s starting point guard job next year a few months ago. Still, it’s impossible to know if these potential candidates will reciprocate an interest in joining the Bulls, and even if they did, their passing abilities still pale in comparison to the Point God.
2. Establishing an inside game
Despite being the most reluctant three-point shooting team in the NBA, the Bulls are also not all that dominant on the inside either. Chicago ranks 19th in points in the paint and 30th in second chance points. This team simply has no post presence.
Adding a player like CP3 who can effectively run the pick and roll, feed his big men great looks in the post, and create easy points in transition would instantly make this team far more competitive. History has shown this to be true, as Paul has repeatedly made mediocre players very rich by inflating their productivity on the court. We even saw this strategy employed to great success by the Kings this year, which leads me to believe the Bulls could enjoy a similarly large single-year leap in improvement by banging down low.
3. Anything is better than nothing
As depressing as it might sound, sometimes the answer is as simple as realizing that having an actual starting-caliber player at the point is better than continuing to shuffle the deck with bench players. Trotting out more or less the same lineup next season is just asking for this team to once again be plagued with the same issues next season.
We’ve seen former Bulls draft picks Lauri Markkanen, Wendell Carter Jr., and Daniel Gafford carry on to have success with other teams, and that’s simply because this team’s offense is flawed at a fundamental level. Chicago can no longer afford to play a pick-up brand of basketball, and adding a true point guard is the only way the Bulls are going to climb out of this hole they’ve been digging for nearly a decade now.
So unless this team trusts Coby White to finally make the leap and grow into the starting point guard slot next season, it’s absolutely essential that they acquire someone who’s up to the job. Regardless of what they decide, it’ll be a risky roll of the dice. For a front office that should be on a shorter leash than ever, I’m not sure this is a gamble they can afford to lose.