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NBA Trade Deadline Rumor Roundup: Evaluating five potential trades involving the Chicago Bulls

Will Gottlieb Avatar
January 31, 2023

T-minus 9 days until the Trade Deadline.

I try to stay level-headed in my analysis and coverage of the Bulls, but when it comes to trade, draft and free agency, I can’t help myself.

Given the direction the season has gone, the Bulls are at a crossroads and should consider all options when it comes to planning for the future. It would be a difficult decision to undergo another rebuild, but they’re in a good position now to accumulate a bunch of assets as a starting point.

With the rumor mill churning, I put together a list of the fake trades that have surfaced, and assessed them based on legality, whether or not the Bulls should consider it and who would say no.

1. Alex Caruso to the Knicks

As we discussed on our segment Bullish or Bullsh*t, NBC Sports Chicago’s KC Johnson noted that the Knicks have been circling and laid out their moveable assets. Here is the outline of a proposed trade.

Knicks get: Alex Caruso

Bulls get: Obi Toppin, 2023 Unprotected 1st round pick via Knicks (21st projected), 2023 lottery protected 1st round pick via Mavericks (17th projected), +$3.6M cap relief

Is it legal: ✅

Why Bulls do it: I stand firm in my belief that Caruso should be considered the fourth member of the Bulls core — if they were to trade him, it would signal as much of a shift towards the bottom as moving one of Zach LaVine, DeMar DeRozan or Nikola Vucevic.

With that said, if the Bulls decide to go south, Caruso’s stock seems to be at an all-time high, and if they can get this kind of return, it would hard to fend off.

I am not particularly high on Toppin, but two mid-round picks and a young player is probably about the best the Bulls can do.

Who says no?: Knicks. Barring another swing-and-miss on someone like OG Anunoby, I don’t think New York is desperate enough to give up those kinds of assets for a non-star player. They went big fish hunting this past summer for Donovan Mitchell and refused to give up that kind of capital, so it’s hard to imagine them sending that out for Caruso.

2. Alex Caruso to the Pelicans

As suggested by The Ringer’s Michael Pina:

Pelicans get: Alex Caruso, Andre Drummond

Bulls get: Jaxson Hayes, Kira Lewis Jr., 2024 top-four protected 1st round pick via Pelicans, 2024 2nd-round pick via Pelicans via Bulls (Lonzo Ball trade), +$1.4M cap relief

Is it legal: ✅

Who says no?: Bulls. While I’m sure the Pelicans would be salivating to consolidate fringe rotation players for Caruso, neither Hayes nor Lewis are particularly intriguing. The Pelicans are on the rise — low-end prospects and a pick in the 20s don’t cut it for Caruso.

3. Alex Caruso to the Warriors

On The Lowe Post podcast, Zach Lowe noted Caruso could likely fetch James Wiseman and a first-round pick from the Warriors.

Warriors get: Alex Caruso

Bulls get: James Wiseman, 2026 first-round pick (first Warriors pick available to be traded).

Is it legal: ✅

Why Bulls do it: This is similar to the Knicks deal. I’m not high on Wiseman, who has barely played during his first three seasons. But getting a high-upside prospect and what could be a valuable pick in the late or post-Stephen Curry, Draymond Green, Klay Thompson era, could be too delicious to pass up.

Who says no?: Warriors. With Jonathan Kuminga, Moses Moody, Patrick Baldwin and Wiseman, the Warriors may also look to go shopping for a star-caliber player, or at the very least, a bigger wing to play in their small lineup.

While Caruso would help them as a super-sub, Gary Payton II on steroids type of player, I wonder how all-in the Warriors would go.

4. Zach LaVine to Lakers

Also on The Lowe Post, Lowe continues to push the LaVine-to-Lakers agenda.

Lakers get: Zach LaVine

Bulls get: Russell Westbrook, 2027 unprotected first-round pick via LA, 2029 lightly protected first-round pick via LA

Is it legal: ❌

Who says no: Bulls. As we noted on CHGO Bulls podcast, there are a plethora of reason this trade doesn’t make sense, starting with the fact that the money doesn’t work.

As Lowe mentions, the Lakers would have to attach a first to Westbrook’s contract to move him in the first place, so a single pick for LaVine in the year 2029 probably doesn’t make much sense for the Bulls, especially considering the additional $10M in salary the Bulls would need to send out (i.e. Caruso) to absorb Russell Westbrook’s contract in return. No thanks!

5. Coby White for Jae Crowder?

Matt Moore of The Action Network’s latest rumors column had a few Bulls-related nuggets as well, including a potential Coby White-for-Jae Crowder swap with the Suns (which he says has lost traction of late).

A one-for-one swap for White and Crowder would put the Bulls $1M into the luxury tax. They would have to add an additional salary like Andre Drummond or Tony Bradley to even the salaries.

With that in mind, here’s an option that works within the confines of the cap.

Suns get: Coby White, Andre Drummond

Bulls get: Jae Crowder

Is it legal: ✅

Why Bulls do it: The Bulls need shooting, size and toughness and Crowder provides all three. For White, who may or may not be part of the Bulls longer term plans, they could go “all-in” on a player that provides more reliability at a position of more importance.

Who says no?: Bulls. Crowder market seems to be much less interesting than the Suns may have hoped — otherwise they would have moved him sooner. Instead, he sits at home collecting dust while the Suns struggle with frontcourt depth. If they could get a player with upside who has connections to Cam Johnson and Chris Paul, as well as a backup five to catch lobs, I’m sure they would pounce at the opportunity.

Meanwhile, the Bulls may prefer operate from a position of power with White, who has the chance to finish out this season and find a deal in his restricted free agency. The Bulls were able to collect a decent haul for Lauri Markkanen in the same scenario. Or, they could keep White, the second best three-point shooter on the team.

Crowder, a 32-year-old on an expiring contract, would hamper the Bulls power this summer.

Other nuggets:

  • Moore also notes “nearly a dozen” teams have interest in Caruso, but several have backed out knowing they won’t be able to win in a bidding war. Johnson also mentioned the Warriors as potential Caruso suitors.
  • In his newsletter The Stein Line, Marc Stein notes that the Bulls are seeking two 1st round picks for Caruso. I think that’s a fair starting point, though I wouldn’t expect that much in return. Maybe heavily protected firsts, but it seems unlikely a team would unload the clip for Caruso if someone like Raptors wing OG Anunoby is going for similar value.
  • Moore also mentioned Portland as having been linked in trade conversations with the Bulls. No word on who could be moving back and forth. The Blazers, should they decide to continue on with their group around Damian Lillard, may opt to lift the lottery protection on the 1st-round pick they owe the Bulls until 2028. It may cost the Bulls a sweetener, but it helps the Blazers open up tradeable future 1st round picks.

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