Putting an end to what was a four-year playoff drought a season ago, the Chicago Bulls proved that they could compete in what has turned out to be a very talented Eastern Conference.
So far this season, the Bulls have had their moments, picking up wins over the likes of the Miami Heat, Milwaukee Bucks and Boston Celtics twice, but they have also had some low moments, losing at home to the Orlando Magic and on the road against the San Antonio Spurs.
There is a ton of talent across the board in the NBA right now, so it is really hard to call any loss a “bad loss,” but the Bulls have looked a little worrisome at times this season and their 8-10 record right now is not very impressive.
Not having Lonzo Ball as he continues to recover from his knee issues has definitely hurt this organization and while they have three All-Star talents in Zach LaVine, Nikola Vucevic and DeMar DeRozan, LaVine and Vucevic have struggled at times early on this year.
When you look at Chicago as a whole, they definitely could be a playoff team yet again, however, it is hard to make a case for this team having what it takes to win their first playoff series since 2015.
Maybe things will change and this team will get better as the season goes along, but some of the holes they have on their roster loom large right now, which is why the Bulls could be a team that ends up being big “buyers” ahead of the trade deadline this season.
In what is expected to be a “lower-tiered” trade deadline compared to past seasons, here are some names that the Bulls should consider as potential mid-season acquisitions.
Jae Crowder - Phoenix Suns
Ever since the offseason, Jae Crowder has been available on the trade block and while the Phoenix Suns wanted to move him ahead of the start of the season, we are now a month into the 2022-23 season and Crowder still remains on the Suns payroll.
A trade involving Crowder is going to happen at some point, but the only question is which team will be willing to give up assets for him?
The Bulls have talent on the wing with Patrick Williams, Javonte Green and Derrick Jones Jr., but adding a veteran player with NBA Finals experience like Jae Crowder could really tighten things up on both ends of the floor for Chicago. He has always been a solid three-point shooting threat off-the-ball and you know what you are getting with Crowder, which makes him an intriguing trade option over the next couple of months.
Assuming they will be able to get Lonzo Ball back at some point and assuming both Zach LaVine and Nikola Vucevic get back to playing at an All-Star-level, the only hole that will be left to fill for the Bulls will exist out on the wing with the question marks that surround Patrick Williams.
Making $10.1 million in the final year of his contract, the Bulls would have to move a key talent in their rotation like Coby White, Patrick Williams or Alex Caruso to make this deal work, but Chicago will likely be willing to move White for the right price ahead of the trade deadline, especially since he is in the final year of his contract and the Bulls have not shown that they are eager to keep him long-term.
Jae Crowder fills an immediate void on the wing if he was to be traded to Chicago, which is why he is an underrated trade target for them to consider.
Kelly Oubre Jr. - Charlotte Hornets
Without Miles Bridges and with LaMelo Ball being hurt, the Charlotte Hornets do not have much of a chance to be competitive in terms of competing for a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. As a result, many around the league are expecting them to be big “sellers,” putting guys like Gordon Hayward and Terry Rozier on the trade block.
Both of them may be a little out of the Bulls’ pay-range, but Kelly Oubre Jr. is an intriguing name that could bring sixth-man-like abilities to Chicago.
Stepping up into a bigger role with the Hornets this season, Oubre is averaging 19.1 points per game, which is a career-high, he has shown improvements as a playmaker attacking the rim and Oubre’s ability to play off-the-ball and be a spot-up three-point shooter has made him an intriguing trade option.
The Bulls are talented offensively, but their bench unit is not the best scoring unit in the league and outside of their three All-Stars, getting production from this team is like rolling the dice at the craps table in the casino. You never know who is going to step up and so far this season for Chicago, more have struggled than succeeded in the second-unit.
Kelly Oubre Jr. would immediately be a guy who can play anywhere from 20-30 minutes off-the-bench every single night and it is not hard to imagine that he would be the third or fourth option every game on offense. Athletically, he is the perfect complimentary type of player to put next to Zach LaVine on the perimeter and the Bulls would greatly benefit from having a consistent option like him on their bench.
Bringing a ton of energy and swagger that the Bulls currently do not have, Oubre would fit right in with this team regardless of his role.
Will Barton - Washington Wizards
This past offseason, the Washington Wizards made a big move to bring in Monte Morris and Will Barton from the Denver Nuggets in exchange for Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Ish Smith. Morris has played a big role in the backcourt, but Barton has struggled to solidify his spot in the Wizards’ rotations and Washington seems to be more comfortable utilizing some of their younger guys in Deni Avdija and Corey Kispert on the wing.
Barton is making $14.3 million in the final year of his contract and while he is not the most consistent player offensively, he is coming off a year in Denver in which he averaged 14.7 points, 4.8 rebounds and 3.9 assist per game while shooting 34.4 percent from the floor. For his career, Barton has shot 35.4 percent from three-point range.
Having the ability to play with or without the ball in his hands, as well as being a versatile defender on the perimeter, Will Barton has a lot to offer in a contract year and Washington does not seem like the best fit for him.
Much like Crowder, Barton is nothing more than a “one-year rental” type of player, but he is exactly the kind of player a team contending for a playoff spot should want as a secondary option on the wing. This is exactly why the Bulls should consider trading for him.
The only question mark that presents itself though in regards to pursuing Barton is what would the Bulls have to give up to acquire him?
His price tag is higher than that of Jae Crowder’s and as a result, Chicago would not be able to just simply move Coby White or Patrick Williams. They would most likely have to move both of them or some combination of one of them and Alex Caruso to match Barton’s contract.
This is likely one reason why the Bulls won’t be able to get a deal done for Will Barton, as giving up Williams and White would be too much outgoing value to Washington, but Barton is definitely the kind of talent the Bulls are lacking right now on their bench.