One Piece Away for the Bulls?

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Updated: January 5, 2022
DeMar13.0

With some of the most dramatic acquisitions this offseason, the Chicago Bulls were without a doubt one of the most highlighted franchises. The sign and trade for Lonzo Ball and the free agency signing of Alex Caruso were seen as steals of the season, yet the price they paid for DeMar DeRozan was nearly unanimously frowned upon by analysts. The reason for it being is it appeared they had sold the farm for mid-level success and a future that did not have a title interwoven into the fabric of its plans. As they currently stand at the top of the Eastern Conference with a 25 & 10 record, DeMar DeRozan has been playing quite possibly the best basketball of his career. The chemistry between DeRozan, Lonzo, Caruso, and Zach LaVine has not only made them the offensive force they had been advertised to be but a cohesive and adequate defense unit.

It is no longer a small sample of overreactions, 35 games into the season, the Bulls have answered several tests and have proven at the very least to be a team feared in a 7 game series. The question now is if the franchise believes this is the year and it is time to make a final move to arm themselves for a playoff push in the unsure waters of the East. Milwaukee has lost their 7-Foot stretch big and Brook Lopez and the Nets have been in injury turmoil and uncertainty with the Kyrie saga. There are no guarantees of what the outcome of the Eastern Conference will even look like when push comes to shove. Though the Bulls have already spent the majority of their draft capital last year on the Nikola Vucevic trade and the recent DeRozan sign and trade, they still have one prized asset left in the chamber to spend at the deadline.

The Pat Williams Asset

Patrick Williams was one of the surprise rookie lottery picks last year. With flashes that often came with Kawhi-like-comps and a high two-way ceiling, it was a huge disappointment when he injured his wrist and was sidelined for the entire season. Considering what he is supposed to become is the ideal fit for the future of the Bulls and the low-playoff projected success, there has been little discussion of Williams’ involvement in any types of upgrade roster exchanges for Chicago. However, with these Kawhi-Comps and high stock around much of the league, Pat Williams may be the asset that can bring a serious win-now rotation piece for the now. Below are two possible trades for Chicago at the deadline.

Jeremy Grant

The Detroit Pistons really only have one untouchable piece at the moment in their newly drafted #1 pick in Cade Cunningham. With their terrible play thus this year and their projection to again be at the top of the lottery, their B/B+ power forward would be best suited as a trade piece to acquire assets to build for the future. In this specific asset collection, Detroit gets a late first, a lottery-protected first, and a young power forward to grow and develop next to Cade in Pat Williams.

Chicago in return received a two-way wing who can play the small ball 5 in Jeremy Grant. The experiment of him being a primary option of an offense has been an utter failure, however, he has developed into a more explosive scorer whom if slotted as a 3rd or 4th option could create an array of mismatches especially with his defensive versatility. Although Jeremy Grant is seen as a non-all-star talent with moderate productivity, if fit in with the firepower already present on the Bulls, it may be the move that puts Chicago over the edge as a serious contender against the Bucks and Brooklyn.

Domantas Sabonis

Although Sabonis is not the two-way presence that Jeremy Grant is, he is a bonified offensive weapon that causes constant pressure in the paint of the opposition. As the focal point of the Pacer’s offense, we have seen he has little success in collecting wins, but if used as a 3rd or 4th option, or even in this case as their 6th man running the 2nd unit, he could easily swing a series. As a high motor rolling big, if used in 20-25 minute spurts rather than as the primary option as he has in Indiana, he could be unlocked as a supercharged Montrezl Harrel.

Most around the league project Pat Williams’ ceiling higher than Sabonis’. With the price tag of his future plus picks, it may look like an overpay, however, there are no guarantees he will ever be as good as even the present-day Sabonis. However, the most important variable is that Pat Williams’ projected value and prime are years away and would presumably be impactful in the second wave of this current Chicago window. Sabonis on the other hand at 25, fits the LaVine timeline perfectly. He is an above-average facilitator for his position and serious problem inside if not schemed against.

Conclusion

 The question though is not really one of value as the assets sent out by Chicago in most people’s eyes would be seen as an overpay for these B-level on-court players. The question instead is if the franchise believes this is the year and they are one piece away. If that is the case, these two acquisitions would without a doubt increase their chances of finding themselves deeper into the playoffs.

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