Dedicated to rebuilding in 2017-18 from the moment they traded away All-Star Jimmy Butler on Draft night last June, the Chicago Bulls briefly seemed to reverse direction in December, posting a 10-6 record that month. It was driven by the return to action of stretch-four Nikola Mirotic and some unexpected chemistry with Bobby Portis, the teammate who had punched Mirotic out before the games began.
But Mirotic is gone now, traded last week to New Orleans, and after reaching a high point of 13-22 on Dec. 29, Chicago is 5-12 and tied for fifth for fewest overall victories (18). K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune discusses ways in which the Bulls could fall further as the trade deadline approached:
...[With] league sources indicating that talks centered on Robin Lopez have intensified and also that the Bulls and Thunder have discussed at least Tony Allen’s expiring contract, management will be busy between now and Thursday’s trade deadline.
The Bulls acquired [Jameer] Nelson, [Tony] Allen, Omer Asik and — the prize piece — a first-round pick from the Pelicans on Thursday in exchange for Nikola Mirotic. Allen never joined the team and will be waived if he’s not traded. In a conference call with reporters that same day, executive vice president John Paxson said Nelson’s status is to be determined.
It’s obvious the Bulls are keeping the expiring deals of Nelson and Allen in play as part of larger packages. Sources have indicated for weeks that Jerian Grant also is available.
Still below the salary cap floor, the Bulls are well positioned to take bad contracts from other teams as long as a future asset — preferably a first-round pick — is attached.
Lately, they’ve been competing shorthanded. Kris Dunn has a concussion. Lauri Markkanen is a new father and not with the team. Trading Mirotic took away the Bulls’ leading scorer.
Denzel Valentine, Bobby Portis, David Nwaba, Cristiano Felicio, Ryan Arcidiacono and Antonio Blakeney represented the available reserves as the Bulls lost their sixth straight Saturday against the Clippers.
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