Bulls missed a golden opportunity (and now it is too late)

Denver Nuggets v Chicago Bulls
Denver Nuggets v Chicago Bulls / Michael Reaves/GettyImages

The Chicago Bulls are stuck in a rut of mediocrity, but it didn’t have to be that way. 

The team that was recently named as the least desirable coaching job in the NBA had a golden opportunity to change the narrative last season but stood with their hands in their pockets while it disappeared. 

With just three moves, the Bulls could have had a fresh start with draft assets, cap space and even some young talent to build around, but they chose to do nothing. Again.

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The Bulls waited too long to trade Zach LaVine 

According to NBC Sports Chicago, the Bulls were in talks with the Pistons to trade Zach LaVine for the expiring contracts of Joe Harris and Bojan Bogdanovic. Harris is completely washed, but Bogdanovic could have given the Bulls a boost in 3-point shooting. 

More importantly, both were on big expiring contracts (Bogdanovic had a $2 million buyout) that would have essentially wiped the LaVine deal off the books after the 2023-24 season.  

Giving LaVine away for nothing would have been a hard pill to swallow, but not as hard as the three years remaining on his deal. 

LaVine then got hurt and the point was moot, but the Bulls had their chance to clear him beforehand and passed. 

It was after LaVine’s injury that things became even more inexplicable. 

The Bulls should have traded Alex Caruso 

After LaVine got hurt and it was even clearer the Bulls weren’t a legit playoff threat, they should have dealt Caruso while the getting was good. 

Golden State (among others) made offers to Chicago that they turned down according to reports. The specifics were never mentioned, but you can guess the Bulls might have been able to get at least a young player and/or a first-round pick. 

The Bulls have limited draft capital because of the pick they still owe and the restrictions on the one they have coming from Portland. Adding picks isn’t just about young prospects, it’s about the ability to make larger trades using them as assets. 

Now Caruso is on an expiring deal and the Bulls are in a similar position to DeMar DeRozan last summer. Do they try to extend him? Do they just let him play his contract out and hope he doesn’t leave for nothing in free agency? Do they trade him now? At next year’s deadline? 

Regardless of the option they choose, the Bulls probably could have had a big payoff for Caruso and instead are stuck with another expiring contract who could walk for nothing or peanuts in a trade. 

The Bulls should have traded DeMar DeRozan 

DeRozan is a great player, but he’s 34 years old and was on an expiring deal. 

Without an extension in place, the Bulls still likely could have flipped DeRozan for a tidy return from some contender, but instead did nothing. 

Now his future is out of their control, and they are stuck either overpaying him in years or annual value (or both), letting him walk for no return or taking a lesser deal on a sign-and-trade. 

Given his age and contract status, it’s doubtful the Bulls would have gotten a huge chest of assets for DeRozan, but they again could have added a young upside player or a pick or two to their coffers, more than they would get in a sign-and-trade now. 

The Bulls would now be entering this offseason with a ton of cap space and a few extra draft picks at their disposal, more than enough to reset the roster around some new players.

It was criminal asset management for a team going nowhere. The Bulls had a chance to reset and refused and now they are stuck in an even worse situation as those same players decline in value.