Wednesday, December 21, 2022

Proposed trade makes Bulls All-Star ‘prioritize future’

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A wise man once said, “You gotta know when to hold ’em, when to fold ’em, know when to walk away and when to run.” The Chicago Bulls did the first part, don’t seem keen on that second part, and may rightly need to consider the last two phases Kenny Rogers referred to in The Gambler.

It might be time to at least gauge interest in forward DeMar DeRozan.

The combination of resounding victories over the Boston Celtics and Milwaukee Bucks with losses to the Orlando Magic and Oklahoma City Thunder has diminished the value of those victories in some eyes.

And given DeRozan’s age, contract, and the Bulls’ depleted war chest — both draft capital and desirable players or contracts — the five-time All-Star could see a decent return.

“If they wanted to (correctly) prioritize the future, the Bulls could trade DeRozan for a playoff team that would absolutely love to add an unstoppable late-game punch generator to their arsenal,” writes The Ringer’s Michael Pina. “Would the Suns offer some expiring contracts and (up to) three first-round picks as a contender trying to salvage the back end of Chris Paul’s prime?”

The problem is getting a deal that both sides would agree to, as usual.

Phoenix would certainly look to develop a package featuring disgruntled forward Jae Crowder, reserve bigman Dario Saric and veteran forward Torrey Craig in hopes of luring the Bulls, who lack draft capital.

Arturas Karnisovas, the Bulls’ vice president of basketball operations, should (and probably would) counter by demanding that sharp-shooting forward Cameron Johnson, 26, be picked up.

get bulls:

get suns:

That proposal hinges on several things, not the least of which is the ongoing uncertainty surrounding the Suns organization as it goes through a change of ownership. Under normal circumstances, Johnson would likely be taboo on such a win-now move.

But adding to the ownership issues, Johnson is out indefinitely as he recovers from surgery for a torn meniscus – a similar issue to what initially sidelined Bulls point guard Lonzo Ball.

The bulls could and should try to play this card in potential negotiations to land Johnson.

Johnson, a collegiate teammate of Bulls guard Coby White, joined the league with questions about his cap as a talented but aging player viewed primarily as a spot-up shooter. He has now posted defensive ratings in the 81st percentile or better in each of the past two seasons, per Cleaning The Glass.

His defensive rating this year is in the 96th percentile but is coming up with information after just eight games.

There could be some quibbles about the compensation draft.

Crowder is probably worth more than his absent diminishes his value as does Saric’s injury history. DeRozan is still a workaholic despite his age of 33, even finishing second with 76 appearances for the Bulls last season behind Ayo Dosunmu.

DeRozan was instrumental in the Bulls’ return to relevance. But this notion that their cap is too low to maintain the status quo is not a new idea. They have been viewed for several months as a team ripe for a major mid-season reshuffle.

Those calls only got stronger as they tried to weather the early storm of an admittedly tough schedule and some bad luck.

“The Bulls are ranked 27th in Quantified Shot Making (qSM), meaning only three teams have had unlucky shooting this season. So maybe everything turns around when a few shots are fired. Also their decent defense will improve if/when opponents stop hitting 37.4 percent of their 3s. According to Second Spectrum, the only team recording a higher heavy contest rate at 3s is the Heat. And according to DunksandThrees, no defense has faced stronger offensive groups this season.”

Their overarching question has to be how far they are from competing for a playoff spot if they assume they’ll get the ball back, which was put on the optimistic end of the spectrum in January. As fast as they slip — they take on the Utah Jazz on Nov. 28, who sit 12th in the East and with a glove to get through the next couple of games.

The calls for change will only get louder if the cops can’t get the ship back on track soon.

There could be some quibbles about the compensation draft.

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