1. DeMar goes to the Big Apple
Buckley proposed this trade for the Bulls, which is a way for the team to send away DeMar DeRozan without fully blowing the team up. RJ Barrett and Isaiah Hartenstein are two young players that have the ability to develop at just 22 and 25 years old, respectively, but they are still more than able to play at a high level currently.
Barrett just finished his fourth season in the NBA, where he averaged 19.6 points per game as well as 5 rebounds and 2.8 assists. These numbers are slightly down from last season, but that can mainly be attributed to improvements to the roster as a whole, including the acquisition of Jalen Brunson. Barrett has shown promise on both sides of the floor, mainly as a volume shooter on the offensive end and a solid defender.
The former third-overall pick is still so young and has the ability to continuously improve, especially in a lower-pressure situation than with the Knicks. Coming to Chicago would ease the tension and allow him to truly develop his game, where he could actually be a top scorer in the league. He has shown this promise against the Bulls, where he dropped 44 points in their last meeting on 14-for-20 shooting from the field and 6-for-6 from deep.
Barrett has done this in each of his last four meetings with Chicago, averaging 30.3 points and 5.8 rebounds per game while shooting 50.6% from the field and 71.4% from long range. He has shown the Bulls firsthand his scoring ability and that he can lock down on the defensive end, including this great contest on a DeRozan buzzer-beater attempt at the beginning of the 2021 season.
RJ Barrett would be a gamble for the Bulls, but it may be worth taking when combined with Isaiah Hartenstein, a 7-foot center. Hartenstein had a down year scoring-wise this season, but showed incredible promise, especially with the Clippers in the 2021-22 season. He averaged 8.3 points, 4.9 boards, 2.4 assists, and 1.1 blocks in just 17.9 minutes per game. The 25-year-old is a beast on the offensive glass, ranking in the 97th percentile in offensive rebound percentage at 12.2%. Additionally, Hartenstein is a strong playmaker, as he ranked in the 96th percentile last year and 70th percentile this year in assist-to-usage ratio, per Cleaning the Glass. This shows that he has excellent playmaking ability, especially for a 7-footer.
Hartenstein has shown that he can make winning plays by passing and rebounding, but he has not brought loads of scoring and defensive versatility. Scoring-wise, he has never averaged more than 8.3 points per game, but that could be chalked up to the low playing time. He also shot just over 21% from three this past season, showing that he will likely not be viable as a floor spacer for the Bulls.
Additionally, he has looked lost on defense at times, and his size may not be able to fully cover his lack of instincts. These are the two main question marks associated with Hartenstein, but he does bring size and excellent rebounding to the table, which is something that the Bulls needed this season. If he is used properly, and not the way Andre Drummond was utilized this year, this could be a solid addition to the Bulls roster.
On the Knicks side, the case for DeRozan is simple. Their two stars, Jalen Brunson and Julius Randle, are 26 and 28 years old, respectively. These two are in or are entering their primes, but it was clear that they needed another offensive threat in the playoffs. This was especially true with Randle’s postseason play, averaging 16.6 points per game on 37.4/25.8/70.9 shooting splits. He was incredibly inefficient and that counteracted the play of Jalen Brunson, who averaged 27.8 points per game and had some truly inspiring play against the Heat.
DeMar DeRozan would add another formidable scoring presence to bring if Randle does not show up in the postseason again, creating a high-powered offense to complement an already good defense. The Knicks may want to make that big addition with both Brunson and Randle in their respective primes, and DeRozan would be that next piece to help them contend for a title.
Overall, this trade could benefit both teams, but there are more questions surrounding Barrett and Hartenstein than there are for DeRozan. Therefore, if the Knicks can add a pick to the deal, that may be something for the Bulls to consider if they choose to go younger and move DeRozan.