After an offseason spent together and developing internally, the Chicago Bulls were hoping to take a step forward and progress up the Eastern Conference totem pole via their mantra of ‘continuity’. So far, that has unfortunately not proven to be the case.
The Bulls have struggled coming out the gate this season, stumbling to a 2-3 record and already slipping down the standings. It’s still far too early to draw over-arching conclusions, but dropping games against teams like the Pistons and Thunder certainly isn’t inspiring much confidence in this team. After their latest loss to the Mavericks, Zach LaVine spoke on the pressing need for this team to win now:
"“We have three All-Star players. We gotta make this work, from top to bottom. It’s not just the players. We gotta make this click.”"
If they can’t figure it out now, Chicago may have to seriously consider hitting the reset button and looking to break up their ‘Big 3’ of underachieving former All-Stars.
If the Bulls fall short of their goals again this season, Zach LaVine and DeMar DeRozan would fetch a big return.
If the Bulls made LaVine available, he would undoubtedly draw a great deal of interest on the trade market. Obvious candidates for his services include those in the East that are missing the additional firepower necessary to keep pace with Boston and Milwaukee. I could see the 76ers, Knicks, and Heat getting involved in potential trade talks, for the right price.
Fortunately, each of these teams possesses at least one promising young prospect and multiple draft picks to send out. This would likely be the bare minimum necessary to get any traction going on a LaVine deal, as the All-Star guard is under long-term team control and contracted through 2026 with a player option for 2027.
As for DeMar DeRozan, it’s a bit trickier finding a natural fit if the Bulls did decide to move him. However, DeMar’s relatively risk-free expiring $28.6 million contract could be enough to entice a contending roster that would otherwise shy away from a multi-year commitment to an aging star.
Although Chicago definitely missed out on their sell-high opportunity on DeRozan following an immaculate 2021-22 campaign and All-NBA honors, they could still likely fetch at least one quality first-round pick for his services. This would help cancel out the 2025 first-round pick the Bulls still owe to San Antonio for the trade that brought DeRozan to Chicago in the first place, and pave the way for the Bulls to truly rebuild and construct a more well-rounded roster.
This would be a long, uncomfortable process not only for the players, but those in the front office as well. Plenty of people will lose their jobs in the process. That’s why I fully accept Arturas Karnisovas and Marc Eversley to continue steering this ship in the wrong direction, but it’s only a matter of time until it crashes and burns. Will LaVine and DeRozan will still be around when the wreckage clears? That much remains to be seen.