The NBA trade deadline is looming as teams have until Thursday Feb 19th to submit trades to the league. Available are players the Bulls could use at price tags they can afford, but the salary matching restrictions will likely stop the Bulls from making a move.
Available for a 1st round pick is Arron Afflalo. The Bulls would likely love to have Afflalo for a 1st round pick, but it's the salary they can't find a way to match. Effectively, a trade for Afflalo requires Mike Dunleavy and pieces to get done.
He might help the team more than Dunleavy, but advanced metrics also suggest he might not. He's not the pure shooter Dunleavy is and isn't having a good year. Their PERs are similar, and Dunleavy has shown he really moves the needle for the Bulls. Tough to give up a 1st round pick for a guy that doesn't necessarily move your needle any.
If Chicago had a five million dollar dead contract, I'd almost guarantee Afflalo or Wilson Chandler would end up on the Bulls, but they don't have one. The good news is the Bulls don't presently have any bad/dead salary, the front office has done a nice job putting the team together.
The bad news is they don't have any bad/dead salary which makes it harder to facilitate trades.
Will the Bulls bank on Snell?
Tony Snell has had three outstanding games in his past four efforts, so the question becomes will the Bulls bank on Snell or will they go back to Kirk Hinrich?
Kirk Hinrich defines done.
I appreciate everything Kirk has done here during his career. I appreciate that he's a smart player who makes the right cuts and the right reads. I think he understands the game of basketball at a very high level.
Unfortunately, Kirk Hinrich no longer has the athleticism to impact the game in a positive way. He makes the right read but is too slow to get to the spot. He makes the right cut but he can no longer finish. He's not a particularly reliable shooter, and he's regularly torched on both sides of the court now.
He still gives the Bulls a nice emergency effort player. A guy who won't totally sink the ship if forced to play for awhile, however, he's no longer a guy who should be part of the rotation.
Tony Snell? Well, he's looked great recently, but the question is whether he can keep it up. Snell's three point percentage, up to 38.5% is now in the pretty good range. His defense had picked up long before his shooting, and I expect that aspect to remain solid.
The thing with Snell's performance is that the book on Snell was "leave this dude open, he won't hurt you". Well, if he continues this stretch (and possibly already) that book is closed. Likely gone will be all the wide open threes and quality looks.
He's going to have to work a lot harder for it going forward. The good news is that will open up the court more for other players. While Snell knocking down open shots was big for the Bulls, the fact teams compressed the paint and dared him to shoot caused problems for other players.
With Snell likely demanding more attention, his stats will decrease some but the room that Butler/Rose/Gasol have to work with will increase. I'm not overly concerned with his offensive output as long as he hits a good percentage of the open ones, team's pay attention to him rather than ignore him, and he continues the quality defense.
Can Snell keep it up? I don't know, but I know the odds are better than with Kirk.
The Bulls best trading scenario with the Nuggets revolved around a Dunleavy + Snell + 1st for Afflalo package. With Snell busting out and Dunleavy still providing quality time for Chicago this package just feels like too much right now. However, it's a gamble for Chicago, as we could easily look back at this trading deadline in February and regret standing pat (assuming that's what actually happens).
In the end, the Bulls have picks they'd likely send out, they have needs they'd like to fill, but they don't have salaries to match. The Bulls also go into the deadline full of good vibes after a four game win streak culminating with the blow out win against LeBron James and the Cavs which likely eases any sense of desperation that was forming from that 5-10 stretch.
For better or worse, I'd predict the Bulls today will be the Bulls on February 20th as well.
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