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Bulls’ dream scenario for the 2023 NBA trade deadline

The Chicago Bulls are currently where no NBA team wants to be, in no man’s land. With the 2023 NBA trade deadline looming on February 9, the Bulls sit at 21-24 and in 10th place in the East. The franchise needs to make some Bulls’ trade deadline moves, one way or another, to change their fortunes. The team could go one of two ways. They could call it a day, have a fire sale, and try to improve their odds for a top-four pick — which is the only way they keep their 2023 pick — or they could try an on-the-fly rebuild where they turn their older assets into younger players to move forward alongside Zach LaVine, Lonzo Ball, and Patrick Williams. The smarter move is option A, blowing it up. However, the dream Bulls trade deadline scenario in the building is likely option B. So, here is how that would look.

A trade deadline deal for Nikola Vucevic

The Bulls’ trade for center Nikola Vucevic was an unmitigated disaster. The team simply wasn’t good with him in the middle, and it cost the team a lot of players and draft capital to make that happen. Now, the Bulls’ only hope to salvage something from this trade is to deal him at the 2023 NBA trade deadline and hope to get something back.

In the dream Bulls trade scenario, Chicago sends Vucevic to the Washington Wizards and gets back Kyle Kuzma and Monte Morris.

The Bulls may need to also send the Wizards a protected first-round pick in the deal, but that’s not a bad price to pay for Kuzma, who is still just 27 years old and would fit nicely with the Bulls’ young core they plan on building around in this scenario.

This trade would eventually give the Bulls a starting lineup of Lonzo Ball, Zach LaVine, Kuzma, Patrick Williams, and a big to-be-named later (see below). That is about the best the Bulls can hope for if they decide to go the route of trying to rebuild on the fly without tearing it down in hopes of keeping a top-four pick this season.

For the Wizards, Vucevic’s $22 million expiring and a future pick isn’t a bad haul for their star if they decide they are going to pack it in and go all in for this year’s loaded draft.

Does this deal make the Bulls a true contender? No. What it does is get something back for Nikola Vucevic after the initial terrible Bulls trade and give coach Billy Donovan a younger roster he can try and develop. And if Ball, Williams, and Kuzma take a step up to the next level next to LaVine, they could have something down the line.

Getting value for DeMar DeRozan

The other older Bulls player who is no longer in the plans in this scenario is DeMar DeRozan. The 33-year-old guard won’t be part of any rebuild, be it massive or small. However, despite his shooting problems this season (26.7% from 3-point range), he is still averaging 26.1 points and 4.9 assists per game.

So, DeRozan would need to go to a playoff contender that needs scoring help but not necessarily in the form of outside shooting. That sounds like the Golden State Warriors.

DeRozan is a consummate professional who can play in high-leverage games and would provide a lot for the Warriors, especially if he’d be OK coming off the bench. In return, the Bulls would get a disappointing top draft pick, James Wiseman.

The rub here is that to make it work, salary-wise the Bulls would include Andre Drummond, and the Warriors would include Draymond Green.

This is a fascinating Bulls trade deadline move because Chicago could go one of two ways with Green. They could keep him and hope that the presence of a multi-time NBA champion would be good for the young players. Green could drive and motivate players like LaVine, Williams, and Ball, helping to get the most out of them.

If Green doesn’t seem like a fit in the locker room, the team could flip him at the NBA trade deadline for another young depth piece.

This Bulls trade deadline deal would give the team an eventual starting five of Ball, LaVine, Kuzma, Williams, and Wiseman. That’s not a bad group moving forward in the East.

One more thing the Bulls would have to do in this scenario is finding another big rotation, though. That could be one final trade deadline deal, such as sending Goran Dragic out for a young center with some potential or Alex Caruso for a slightly better player in return.

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