Just a few days ago, things seemed all but decided on the Damian Lillard trade talks. We didn’t know when he was going to be traded, or for what, but it appeared his wishes were destined to be fulfilled with a trade sending him to the Miami Heat. Now? Things aren’t so clear. That’s because the Chicago Bulls are among a host of different teams that have rapidly scrambled to take advantage of this messy situation.
We’ve heavily discussed the reports of the Bulls showing potential interest in Lillard over the last few days, but it never truly felt like a real possibility. As the days progress, I’m not so sure anymore. If the Bulls were to trade (or get involved as a third-team) for Lillard, they’d almost certainly be sending out All-Star guard Zach LaVine in the process.
But what would the Bulls even look like if they lost their franchise cornerstone of the last seven years? With training camp right around the corner, this situation will have to be resolved quickly, leaving me to wonder just how Chicago’s starting lineup might look if they pull off a miracle and land Damian Lillard via trade.
Building the Bulls’ ideal starting lineup if they pull off a blockbuster trade for Damian Lillard.
Point Guard: Damian Lillard
We start things off here with the most obvious of answers. Wherever Lillard gets traded in the end, he’ll undoubtedly not only be the starter, but the most prominent offensive weapon on the team. Dame would be Chicago’s engine on offense, and he’s proven he can take lesser teams the distance. The only real question is whether or not the Bulls have the tools to help Lillard go all the way.
Shooting Guard: Alex Caruso
Even if Zach LaVine is traded away to facilitate bringing Lillard to Chicago, the Bulls still have plenty of backcourt talent to fall back on. Coby White, Jevon Carter, and Ayo Dosunmu could throw their hats in the ring for the starting shooting guard position, but in the end, it would likely go to Alex Caruso. After earning an All-Defensive First Team selection last year, Caruso has proven he’d be a perfect option to offset Dame’s defensive faults. Knocking down 36.4% of his threes last year, Caruso would also help space the floor and give Lillard the space he needs to go to work.
Small Forward: DeMar DeRozan
One of the biggest obstacles holding Lillard back from making a run to the NBA Finals is the fact he’s never had a running mate that could consistently take over games whenever he’s having an off game. CJ McCollum is the best player Lillard has had as a teammate since reaching his prime, which says a lot. A bonafide All-NBA talent and one of the most clutch players in the league like DeMar DeRozan would be a fantastic pairing, even if their personal playstyles couldn’t be any more different.
Power Forward: Patrick Williams
For the same reasons Caruso would start next to Lillard, Patrick Williams has to get the call alongside DeRozan. Williams is the best frontcourt defender the Bulls have, and his abilities on that end of the court would be absolutely vital in the efforts to keep games from becoming extremely high-scoring duels. Pat has maintained a career 41.4% mark from deep throughout his career, meaning he’d be an excellent option to have on the perimeter whenever Dame or DeMar needs to kick the ball out.
Center: Nikola Vucevic
There’s been much speculation about the possibility of Jusuf Nurkic also being moved if the Blazers manage to pull off a Lillard trade. I highly doubt Nurkic would be coming to the Bulls if that were the case, but even if he did, he still wouldn’t be the starter. That’s because we already have Nikola Vucevic to anchor the team. After a much-improved 2022-23 campaign from the big man and an absolutely stellar outing at the 2023 FIBA World Cup, I’d be very interested to see what Vucevic would have to offer on a team like this.