the team in huddle

Ask Sam Mailbag: The trade deadline approaches.

Matt Taiji: Disclaimer: I know that none of the following trade proposals have a snowball's chance in Death Valley of ever even being remotely considered by the Bulls' front office. These proposals are strictly for entertainment purposes only. Credit Michael Pina of the Ringer for creating the below Chicago Bulls/NO Pelicans trade proposal.

Russell Westbrook
Patrick Beverly
Thomas Bryant
LAL 2027 first round pick (unprotected)
LAL 2029 first round pick (unprotected)
Zach LaVine
Nikola Vucevic
Tony Bradley

Gary Trent, Jr.
O.G. Anunoby
DeMar DeRozan
Coby White
Portland's pick and/or
LAL 2029 first round pick (unprotected)

Jaxson Hayes
Kira Lewis Jr.
NOP’s top 4 protected 2024 first-round pick
Chicago’s own 2024 second-round pick
Alex Caruso
Andre Drummond
The net result for 2023-2024 would be Lonzo Ball (hopefully), Gary Trent Jr., OG Anunoby, Patrick Williams, and Thomas Bryant as the starters with Kira Lewis Jr., Ayo Dosunmo, Jaxson Hayes and others who would make the starting five younger and more balanced both offensively and defensively. My biggest hangup would be losing Vooch (offense) and Caruso (defense) but that is the cost for getting younger and restocking draft picks.

Sam: I agree with you... that there’s little chance for any of them. That would be “blowing it up” in the latest version, a transition to young veterans over draft picks, which isn’t a bad idea if they are convinced this won’t ultimately work. Which I don’t think they’ve gotten to yet without Ball. They seem convinced about giving it one full chance with Ball, if not this season. But I think most of those deals do make some sense. There’s no way the Bulls—or I think most anyone—wants picks five and seven years away. But you could do some of the other stuff, which makes sense flipping one of the picks for a player, which is possible. There’s been talk for awhile of Zach in LA now that he’s with LeBron’s agency. And Zach actually would be ideal with LeBron, a big time shooter who doesn’t have to be the main guy. And back to UCLA and all. And LeBron is pushing hard for someone. It only really makes sense for the Bulls to get off salary to do some other things if they can also flip at least one of the picks. Westbook for the rest of the season might not be bad since the Vucevic would have a greater scoring role. And by 2027 and certainly 2029, LeBron’s gone, Davis doesn’t have much left, and that is a chance for the No. 1 pick for someone. Like how the Lakers once got Magic Johnson. Next, I don’t believe Toronto’s plan is a sentimental journey to get back DeRozan, though knowing his heart he might like that idea. I’d love to have Anunoby and Trent Jr. for toughness, defense and shooting. They seem headed elsewhere is there is a trade. With the Pelicans, Jaxson Hayes to me is a prize teams aren’t wise to. The Pelicans seem to have no use for him and he really could be huge for someone, a better version of JaVale McGee. Kira Lewis, likewise, I believe is an undervalued point guard, and the Bulls certainly can use restocking some picks, and especially another point guard even if Ball can return at some level. The Pelicans have Caruso types in Alvarado and Herb Jones, but with playoff aspirations and in a slum lately it’s feasible. I don’t know that it all creates a high level contender for the Bulls, but the issue for the Bulls moving forward also will be if you are riding long term with veterans in their 30s like DeRozan and Vucevic is that the plan? Hey, still a week before trade deadline. Things change and things happen. One of the most enjoyable weeks of the regular season.

James Wallace: Coby White has some talent. Plus, he has hustle that you can’t teach. Remember, some sports experts called Joakim a bust, but he suffered from bad coaching at first. Joakim also had hustle every night but with a coach who knew how to use his talents, and drive, he started to shine. White might never be a star but he might be a solid sixth man. He is currently one of the top six players on the team. Not a point guard but he can shoot. I wonder how much his recent poor shooting is a function of his recent knee injuries. It must be tough for him to hear all the negative comments sent his way but he still hustles. A trade for Jae Crowder only makes sense if the Bulls want to start a retirement home. Plus they aren’t going to get someone better than White in the draft for a few years.

Sam: I also saw that report of maybe White for Crowder, but it sounds more like Crowder is trying to get back to Milwaukee. Plus, I agree it seems to me Coby would be more valuable to the Bulls for now than Crowder, a defensive minded veteran who isn’t as good a shooter as White and who hasn’t played in a year. Plus, the Bulls expect Javonte Green back, and he does a lot of the stuff Crowder does. Derrick Jones Jr., too. Coby could be on the market. He becomes a restricted free agent this summer if the Bulls give him a qualifying offer that would be about $10 million. I can’t figure with his varied use if he’s part of their plans and if they want to spend on him since Ayo also can be a free agent. Coby’s been much better this season after an injury-marred 21-22, but he’s also part of that previous management roster which basically has been dismantled. If the Bulls do something with him I suspect it’s more about finances down the road and flexibility to do other things than his play, which has been very helpful this season. If there’s a move, he seems the most likely to be involved.

John Jenkins: What's up with Andre Drummond? He isn't getting much playing time lately. Is it an injury issue, or is there more to it?

Sam: Oh yeah, or Andre Drummond with Coby. The coach doesn’t explain it this way because he prefers to celebrate and elevate all the players, but it seems obvious from what he says and the way he coaches that he wants to play a faster, transition game predicted on turnovers to accelerate the offense and produce easy baskets. It’s not wrong, though without Ball, as we know, he doesn’t quite have the personnel now. And Green, too. So he’s opted for Derrick Jones Jr. in the “big man” role to try to increase those steals and the pace. Maybe that changes some now with Drummond having a big game against the Hornets Thursday. Donovan also is a more reactive coach to the opponent to counter matches rather than, say, putting out two bigs and seeing if the opponent will match to him. There seemed like an offseason need for a backup big (I wasn’t as down as Tony Bradley as obviously the staff was), but lately there was a reduction in Drummond’s playing time even if he’s productive when he plays. If he avoids the fouls. Because when Drummond plays they’re obviously going to be a bit slower, if more physical. Donovan’s philosophy of play generally has been as a Rick Pitino protege to be faster. He’s used Drummond in circumstances since there are some big teams, though Donovan obviously defaults to the smaller, quicker lineups with more switching on defense possibilities. But he got burned some against the Clippers when he played small, and Drummond was big against Charlotte. I assume for now it remains game to game.

Rocky Rosado: Am I the only one that believes the Bulls would be better off going another direction? I would love to see the bulls move Patrick Williams back to small forward and build around him. Some say he can't play small forward but yet he always ends up guarding the opposing team's best perimeter player. I truly feel LaVine, DeMar, Vuc are stagnating the growth of some of our young players. They can't play their game. I see it with Ayo who was a scoring guard for Illinois. The ball is always getting taken out of his hands by LaVine and DeMar. If we traded LaVine and DeMar I guarantee Ayo would play more aggressively and attack the basket. That is his game. Instead he's mostly relegated to watching and waiting for LaVine, DeMar, and Vuc to even get the ball back. 

Sam: Based on my mail after losses like to the Hornets and Pacers, you’re hardly the only one. But I don’t see that including management, and this is the NBA where you need stars. And as much as many like elements of the young players, neither is close to—or maybe ever proving to be—a star. I can’t imagine what the Bulls would look like without DeRozan and LaVine. Well, actually I can since it involved Antonio Blakeney, Shaq Harrison, Rawle Alkins, Wayne Selden, Chandler Hutchison, Cristiano Felicio and Otto Porter. I believe management understands how the league works and what the team needs, and it’s not a wrecking ball…wait for much as a Ball? There are some other fixes, but not quite so dramatic.

Brodie Larsh: Putting the Bulls aside for a minute, how about this trade idea..
Nets get Doug McDermott, Josh Richardson and Jacob Poetl
Spurs get Ben Simmons, Nets 2023 1st round pick, and 2 future 2nd round picks
I think Popovich could do wonders for Ben Simmons, and if not, his bloated salary will be coming off the books by the time they start getting competitive again. Nets get some great players for their title run. These Spurs players can't really factor into their future too much. They'll be moving forward around their upcoming 1st round pick Devin Vassel, and Keldon Johnson

Sam: I’m looking forward to seeing the Spurs and Popovich here next week, Popovich going into the Hall of Fame this season, and I know if I ask him about it he’ll yell at me. So I probably will. Sometimes you can’t let go of the biases you have (OK, that includes most of the world’s population), but when it comes to basketball one of mine has been belief in Ben Simmons. Not that I bought into the Magic Johnson comparisons when he came into the NBA, but he was that unicorn thing, 6-10, fast, defended all positions, passer. Everything but the shot. So what with all the shooters. But he remains that shell of himself. I like that idea that maybe Pop could get it out of him in a place where no one is watching. I’ve been a fan of Poeltl, if only the way he dominates the Bulls. And though the Nets seem enamored lately of Nic Claxton, I haven’t been impressed. He seems too awkward and gets pushed around a lot. We assume the Spurs season is all about Wembanyama or at least Henderson. I might take a flier, but, again, I may not be seeing this one the same as others.

DENVER, COLORADO - JUNE 01: Nikola Jokic #15 of the Denver Nuggets leaves the court after their double overtime win over the Portland Trail Blazers during Game Five of their Western Conference first-round playoff series at Ball Arena on June 1, 2021 in Denver, Colorado. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

Mike Queen: Did Jokic take a hit to is MVP chances on national television against Embiid for people who usually don't see him. 

Sam: I have to hope that the people who vote for the award watch more games than on national TV. I’ve made my point that if Jokić gives back last year’s for the sixth place finish, he’s still good as the leader for now. But your point is a salient one, and I think that’s the way it goes. You like to think the voters will remember it’s a season long race, but like voters in elections, they usually remember the last thing they saw. So while Jokić has been the leader lately and perhaps caught by Embiid from that game, I believe we’ll see constant jockeying in this all the way into the last week with Tatum, Giannis, and maybe Dončić if the Mavs can swing a significant trade. Otherwise I don’t see Dallas in position regarding the record. I know, Jokić wasn’t last season, either, and I know sports has changed so that baseball pitchers who are 12-14 can win the Cy Young award. Though  I still have that quaint bias about winning games mattering. Jaylen Brown will do a lot, which might eliminate Tatum. Depending on who thunders down the stretch it seems to be among Jokic]ć, Embiid and Giannis. I hope Embiid gets it since I like everyone happy and having an award like all the kids’ soccer teams.

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - OCTOBER 7: James Wiseman #33 of the Golden State Warriors shoots the ball during an open practice on October 7, 2021 at the Oracle Performance Center in San Francisco, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2021 NBAE (Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images)

Steven Brown: Here’s a trade idea: Warriors receive Vucevic, Bulls receive Wiseman, Kuminga, and Baldwin 

Sam: If I were the Bulls I’d have to take a run at it given the possibilities, but since Vucevic is a rental by being a free agent this summer, I don’t see how Golden State could consider giving up so much of the youth they spent a few years accumulating even if they hardly use them now. I don’t think they win with Looney, and think they have a better chance with someone like Vucevic and his ability to fit right into their system with his passing and shooting. But that’s at least two high lottery picks for a rental. I assume the Bulls would have to be interested. 

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - MAY 03: Jayson Tatum #0 of the Boston Celtics and Jaylen Brown #7 celebrate during the third quarter of Game Two of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Milwaukee Bucks at TD Garden on May 03, 2022 in Boston, Massachusetts. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Michael Worth: The Celtics Wednesday against Brooklyn:  48.1% from deep tonight, 26-54: Insanity. Brown and Tatum each went 7 for 12 from deep. Both are way 2 talented to be settling for 3s but I guess that's the name of the game now?

Sam: It’s also why I still don’t see them as a Finals winner. Not that I can figure out who will be.. Denver? It remains the season for somebody to take it by surprise. Kings? Not to diminish those Bulls wins over the Celtics, but it’s also a big reason they won those games. Brown, especially, keeps pulling up and shooting threes whether he makes them or not. I guess the formulas say to keep shooting them. It’s another of the big differences in the game and the way it’s coached and taught. We always were taught in what seemed to be logical that if something wasn’t working to try something else. Then maybe go back to that. True, there’s the mantra for shooters that they keep shooting, that the odds/percentages will even out, so if you miss then you’ll make. Not sure that’s science, but sports really isn’t. It’s obviously a lot easier to keep taking them with a 40-point lead as the Celtics had most of that game. But in the playoffs one loss when you thought you had a win can turn a series. It just seems like Boston is going to shoot themselves out of a game they need because it’s primarily what they do.

PORTLAND, OREGON - JUNE 03: Damian Lillard #0 of the Portland Trail Blazers reacts after his three point basket in the second quarter against the Denver Nuggets during Round 1, Game 6 of the 2021 NBA Playoffs at Moda Center on June 03, 2021 in Portland, Oregon. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

Randall Sanders: What are the stipulations or parameters on the Portland pick the Bulls have? What happens if Portland makes it to Play-In game from the pick perspective, would the Bulls get the pick? or would Portland have to win the play-in game.

Sam: That was the Lauri Markkanen three-way deal to Cleveland in which the Blazers got Larry Nance Jr. (not such a good deal) and got off money so the Bulls got Derrick Jones Jr. and the protected pick. The Bulls get it next time the Trailblazers make the playoffs, and they’re again on the outside and here to play the Bulls Saturday. They’d have to win the play-in and get to seven or eight for the pick to transfer. 

DENVER, CO - OCTOBER 08: Nah'Shon Hyland #3 of the Denver Nuggets reacts with a fan after hitting a step back jumper and drawing a foul against the Minnesota Timberwolves during the third quarter at Ball Arena on October 8, 2021 in Denver, Colorado. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by C. Morgan Engel/Getty Images)

Mike Sutera: The Nuggets went from loving this kid to hating him in a year. Bones Hyland has removed all association with the Nuggets from his social media bios Alex, Ayo for Bones and a 1st rounder unprotected and salary filler?

Sam: He’s the kind of guy who gets traded at the deadline more than the big names you hear about. He’s an intriguing guy who is sort of a microwave player who can get hot and score, though somewhat on the undisciplined side. Likes the long ball, as I recall. I hadn’t heard what’s gone on in Denver to reach that level, though he probably became expendable given regulars getting healthy. With his scoring ability I can see interest. I still doubt the Bulls want to move Caruso, but if you can get a player and a first maybe you look at it. I suspect the Bulls would be seeking more, at least for now, if they were so inclined.

DALLAS, TX - OCTOBER 28: Maxi Kleber #42 of the Dallas Mavericks celebrates after hitting a three point shot against the San Antonio Spurs in the first half at American Airlines Center on October 28, 2021 in Dallas, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images)

Nicholas Hill: I gotta say this has been a really up and down season but I don't expect anything major to be done about the roster at the trade deadline. AKME has preached continuity and there has been no evidence of any big moves coming. That said, my thought is mainly about the off-season and Vooch. We all know he's in a contract year and I can't imagine that he would return given the team's current construction. My observation has been that the Bulls play their best when the offense flows through Vooch. It falls apart when Zach and DeMar dominate the ball because they have only 1 or 2 shooters, Coby/P-Will, to bail them out of those possessions. I don't like iso ball but it seems more realistic that Vooch would be the one to leave given his free agency. So, my thought is to try and convince him into a sign and trade. Sign and trade him to the Mavs for Maxi Kléber, Dorian Finney Smith and maybe picks. Dallas is desperately trying to find help for Luka. So, there it is. Resign Coby and Malcolm Hill. Keep Drummond, Pat, DeMar, Zach and hopefully Lonzo to be the starting 5 next year.

Sam: I do think you’re onto something in the sign and trade, though the Mavs seem to value those guys more than it seems to me they’re worth. I think their idea is to add someone and keep those guys, or at least one. Those are the types of players who would seem to fit better with the Bulls, big men who could shoot but also cover some ground on switches, so Donovan would use them. Vucevic’s name comes up a lot now, though I suspect the offseason determines his future with the team.

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH - APRIL 28: Mike Conley #11 of the Utah Jazz in action during the second half of Game 6 of the Western Conference First Round Playoffs against the Dallas Mavericks at Vivint Smart Home Arena on April 28, 2022 in Salt Lake City, Utah. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)

Brian Tucker: What a rollercoaster season. Every reason for excitement has been balanced with disappointment and vice versa. This team makes me dizzy. I couldn’t begin to imagine what’s been going through AK’s mind. At the start of the season, I mentioned Conley as an ideal fit in lieu of Ball. Now I don’t see a trade that makes sense and a buyout is unlikely to happen, but with Ball pretty much not going to come back this year, I’d love to see what this Bulls team could do with a real point guard like Conley. And I’d love to see what Conley could do with this team.  How can we make this work?

Sam: As I probably mentioned then, I was lobbying for Conley before he got his latest contract when the Bulls pre-Lonzo went for Satoransky and Thad Young. So they’ve known about the need for a point guard for some time, and obviously even more now. But with Conley’s $24 million still owed for next season—I’ll admit even I would have paused about paying him that much with his injury history—there’s nothing much that makes sense or is feasible with the Bulls. Maybe Markkanen thrown in? Just kidding. Lauri’s an All-Star, and good for him. It obviously was never going to work in Chicago anymore once they drafted Patrick Williams. I know I’m thrilled for Lauri.

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA - NOVEMBER 18: Jalen Brunson #11 of the New York Knicks looks on against the Golden State Warriors during the third quarter of an NBA basketball game at Chase Center on November 18, 2022 in San Francisco, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

Mike Kings: I’m no Knicks fan, but Brunson got robbed. Trae (off) not shocking. 
Harden a bit. Jaren Jackson Jr.?

Sam: DeMar got Brunson's spot. It just shows how much the coaches respect DeRozan. Because likely facing him takes so much game planning, and yelling about the pump fake. I’ll admit I didn’t think DeRozan would be selected for the All-Star team; not because he isn’t having a worthy season, but the coaches usually go with wins. Which is why I thought Harden could make it with the 76ers record, and though the Knicks’ record is only a few better than the Bulls, I thought they could get two. But if they got one I was sure it would be Brunson. I’m with you; bad pick. I know Randle has had a good last month, but he was awful early. And not only has Brunson got the Knicks finally organized and looking like they have an offense and having big games, he even got Derrick Rose benched. Randle still shoots some of the worst shots in the league. As for Jackson, heck I’m always surprised when he is playing. Missed 15 games and averaging about 16 and 6. That’s All-Star? Looks like they’re giving participation trophies in the Western Conference.

LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 13: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Center, of the Los Angeles Lakers takes a momentary break during an NBA basketball game between the Los Angeles Lakers and the New Orleans Jazz at The Forum on February 13, 1976. The Lakers defeated the Jazz 126-112. (Photo by Ross Lewis/Getty Images).

Don Wind: How many more points would Kareem Abdul Jabbar have scored if he could have entered the NBA at the age of 18 instead of three years in college (as did LeBron James)? Should be an interesting discussion.

Sam: Which I assume begins any day now. Look, it’s a great achievement, but Karl Malone is third all-time in scoring and I doubt anyone has him in their top 25 players of alltime. LeBron has been a marvel if also for the durability. He’s really unique that way, which is a gift, but he’s also obviously worked at it to stay in shape so he can continue like Tom Brady did in football.  It shouldn’t change the determination of where he fits alltime in the NBA archives. The rules also changed. What if Jordan shot threes? They were allowed in his time, but discouraged. Or Oscar and Jerry West, who shot them and got two points, especially West (Kareem made one three in his career). LeBron deserves our applause for a truly impressive record, though you don’t have to also love him for it. Kareem might have 10,000 more points, by the way, though would he have held up like LeBron has? Size always has been a separator in sports, so you can’t blame LeBron. But we’ve never really seen a body like his, the size of Karl Malone with the speed and explosion of Westbrook. LeBron reminds me of when I was 16 and some 10 and 12-year-old kids came to the park and wanted to play. So you shot over them and used them away on the way to the basket. LeBron basically plays like that. But they’re all men; he’s just a bigger man. And no one held it against Wilt. Meanwhile, even into his 40s, unlike even LeBron who did always play a lot most of his career, Kareem still was playing just about every game. In the season when he turned 41, he played 80 games. And he didn’t have to. It wasn’t like he was losing his job. LeBron always has played a lot, if not as much lately. So give him credit for that, but not like it was.

Art Alenik: We’re 50 games in after the Clippers and the Bulls are still “trying to figure it out”. The infuriating part is that they ARE better than this (at least potentially). 

Sam: Yeah, what’s what I keep saying.

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