The Chicago Bulls are off to a 15-21 start to the season, slowly making improvements after the horrible 5-14 start to the season. The Bulls have been making these improvements without multiple key roster pieces. Zach LaVine has been sidelined for over a month with a foot injury. In the 18 games LaVine played in this season for the Bulls, Chicago's record was 5-13. This poor play has added a great deal of pressure to the franchise to potentially make a radical trade to shake things up.
That being said, since LaVine went down, the Bulls have posted an 11-7 record and are currently 10th place in the Eastern Conference, just a half-game out of the 9th spot. The Bulls have been on a little bit of a slide recently since Nikola Vucevic suffered a groin injury just before Christmas. Vucevic has been a huge piece for the Bulls this season averaging 17 points and 10 rebounds a night.
Unfortunately for Bulls fans, there is still no timetable for his return. Torrey Craig has also been out for almost a month now with a heel injury and is not set to return for another 4-6 weeks. Craig has helped the Bulls a lot this season off the bench shooting over 38% from beyond the arc in his limited time as a Bull thus far.
This is now the third full season of the "Big 3" of DeMar DeRozan, Zach LaVine, and Nikola Vucevic in Chicago, and this core has experienced no tangible success whatsoever. They have won a total of just one postseason game in soon-to-be three seasons with this roster, and have not won a playoff series since the 2014-15 season, led by Jimmy Butler, Derrick Rose, Paul Gasol, Mike Dunleavy, and Joakim Noah.
As one of the biggest market teams in the league, that once had the greatest player of all time in Michael Jordan, who had two three-peats in the span of 8 years, this current team is a disgrace. With Lavine's lack of productivity, and DeRozan's game slowly declining on a contract year, the Bulls need to enter rebuild mode as soon as possible and move on to a new era in Chicago Bulls basketball, and this is how they do it.
The Bulls must decide whether to keep this core together or blow it up at the trade deadline while they still can.
Trade or Remain: Zach LaVine
LaVine has been all over NBA news recently, and not for the right reasons. There have been a handful of teams linked to being "interested" in potentially trading for the All-Star Zach LaVine, but we are yet to hear of any team being close to a deal with the Bulls for LaVine.
There was also some speculation on why LaVine shrugged off a member of the Bulls PR team when attempting to interview him after the Bulls' comeback win against the Miami Heat, to which he responded to the media saying there was a "miscommunication", and he headed straight to the locker room after a Bulls win. LaVine also reportedly removed, "Bulls Nation", from his X (formerly known as Twitter) personal bio.
The Bulls seem better off without him, with a record of 10-8 since he has been sidelined with a foot injury. The market for LaVine has been very quiet recently, however, LaVine is set to return to action Friday night against the Charlotte Hornets.
date to watch for is January 15th, which is when many players who signed deals this offseason, like Austin Reaves, become trade-eligible. The one team who we have heard ties to LaVine throughout has been the Los Angeles Lakers. The Lakers are on a slide recently and may be looking to change things up in LA. It is evident LaVine no longer seems happy in Chicago, and the fans seem to also be unhappy about LaVine being in Chicago still.
Trade or Remain: DeMar DeRozan
DeMar DeRozan had arguably the best season of his career in Chicago in 2021-22, averaging multiple career-high statistics for him. We are slowly seeing a decline in DeRozan's production in the years since, as he is aging. DeRozan is in the last year of his contract and is up for an extension, however, he is hesitant to sign an extension as the direction of the organization is unclear to him.
DeRozan would be a great veteran piece to add to a young team looking to make a playoff run, like the Orlando Magic, in a potential trade before the deadline. The Bulls could potentially get back a good, young player or two in a DeRozan trade with the Magic.
While DeRozan is not seeing all of this negative media attention like LaVine is, I believe it is time for Chicago to move on from him and go in a totally new direction with the organization as a whole. The Bulls could potentially get some younger assets and maybe picks in exchange for DeMar DeRozan from a championship-caliber team.