HomeBasketball TodayOffseason Buzz: Bulls Eyeing Trio of Superstars After Playoff Letdown

Offseason Buzz: Bulls Eyeing Trio of Superstars After Playoff Letdown

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The Bulls, instead of blowing it up after losing to the play-in yet again, might have some grandiose ideas on how to upgrade their roster.

It might be time for the Chicago Bulls to face the music and embrace a potential rebuild. Following the Bulls’ 112-91 loss to the Miami Heat on Friday night, their season has come to an end in the play-in tournament for two consecutive seasons now. It has become evident that the ceiling of this team is a first-round exit, which they reached in 2022, and amid their injury problems, they have failed to make it back to the playoffs since.

However, instead of blowing it all up by trading away Zach LaVine, Nikola Vucevic and Coby White, not to mention letting DeMar DeRozan walk in free agency, the Bulls appear to have grandiose ideas on how to improve the roster.

According to Jamal Collier of ESPN, the Bulls will be “monitoring” star players they could trade for or acquire in free agency. In particular, three names have been identified as potential targets for Chicago, namely Trae Young, Paul George and Donovan Mitchell.

Nonetheless, the Bulls are merely keeping their options open. DeMar DeRozan has already put pressure on the front office by saying that, while he would love to stay in Chicago, he also wants to compete for a championship. Collier added as well that, despite the trade talks involving Zach LaVine throughout the 2023-24 season, there is a chance that he begins next season in the Windy City.

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Do the Bulls really need Trae Young?

This is not to say that Coby White is a better player than Trae Young. The Atlanta Hawks star is miles ahead of White as a playmaker, while Young also stresses defenses thanks to his elite ability to get to the foul line. But why would the Bulls decide to pursue an upgrade in a position where they’re getting plenty of bang for their buck?

White will be making a total of $24.8 million for the next two seasons, making him one of the biggest bargains in the entire association due to how much he has improved his game. White’s numbers (19-4-5) for that kind of contract is a legitimate steal, and something the Bulls would want to keep for the long haul, especially if they were to embrace a youth movement.

Trading for Trae Young will require the Bulls to give up Coby White, in addition to whatever other draft picks the Hawks will be asking for. Will that be enough to move the needle for the Bulls? The Hawks have already found it difficult to build around Young; they missed the playoffs this season, were the seven-seed in 2023, and the eight-seed in 2022.

For Young to have success, he needs certain kind of players around him. He needs a three-and-D secondary playmaker/ballhandler, a lob threat that will thrive off his playmaking, and plus defenders in all other positions to cover for his lack of size and lateral speed. The Bulls won’t be able to provide that — especially when they have to gut the roster to acquire him from the Hawks.

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Paul George, Donovan Mitchell: longshot targets in free agency

It’s unlikely that the Bulls emerge as major players in free agency, as they will struggle to create enough cap space to sign players of Paul George’s and Donovan Mitchell’s caliber outright. Their chance to acquire either of those players is for them to declare that signing with the Bulls is the only thing they want, forcing their teams to acquiesce via a sign-and-trade.

Still, given the ambitions of those two players, acquiring one of them appears to be a longshot. George dreams to win a championship, and he is comfortable playing for a Los Angeles Clippers franchise that has embraced him as one of its own. He is also playing closer than ever to his hometown of Palmdale, so it’s not likely that George uproots his life to join a Bulls team in flux when he enters free agency in less than three months.

For Donovan Mitchell, rumors of a potential move once he hits free agency in 2025 will only grow louder the closer he gets to July of that year. Mitchell, has long been rumored to be angling for a move to the New York Knicks, the team that nearly acquired him in 2022 before the Cleveland Cavaliers swooped in and acquired him.

Nonetheless, Mitchell’s fit with the Knicks will be called to question. Jalen Brunson has blossomed into an All-NBA First Team-caliber guard as the lead star in New York, so pairing him up with Mitchell in an undersized backcourt might not be the best idea, especially when there’s a bit of skill overlap between the two.

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However, the Knicks’ star-hunting tendencies are known, and Mitchell’s interest in signing with them might be the league’s worst-kept secret. Thus, it is, yet again, unlikely for the Bulls to acquire him, although things can change from now until then.

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