There were a lot of questions surrounding the Bulls around the trade deadline. Would they move Jimmy Butler and start a rebuild? Would any of the number of role players involved in rumors over the last month or so fetch anything in return? Now that the deadline has passed we have answers, and they aren’t encouraging.
Jimmy Butler is still a Bull. This is probably a good thing. He’s a top 10 player in the league right now, and still only 27. You can absolutely still build a contending team around him. If Boston wasn’t willing to give up both of the Nets picks over the next two years, a trade probably didn’t make sense. However this isn’t exactly encouraging,
Woj says Bulls and Celtics weren’t close. Bulls wanted to get pieces of C’s core and not draft picks.
— Joe Ostrowski (@JoeO670) February 23, 2017
A Butler trade would signal a complete teardown. So there is no need to add the Celtics secondary players who you aren’t building around as opposed to picks. But if this alone doesn’t show you that the Bulls are clueless, let’s get to the trade that was actually made.
— The Vertical (@TheVertical) February 23, 2017
There is no logic behind this trade. Taj Gibson, despite his expiring contract, was the Bulls’ most valuable asset after Butler. And the team was reportedly desperate to get something for him instead of losing him for nothing in the offseason like they did with Pau Gasol last year. And this move reeks of desperation.
Gibson is by far the best player involved in this deal, and still the most valuable despite his expiring contract. McDermott is a very flawed player, and I’ve been tougher on him than most, but the one thing that he does bring to the table, his shooting, is the one thing the Bulls need most alongside Butler. Yet the Bulls got almost nothing in return.
Payne is the centerpiece of the Thunder’s package. He was the 14th pick back in 2015 draft. He was effective in a pick and roll heavy offense in college at Murray State but has yet to find his footing thus far in the NBA. Granted, he has been stuck behind Russell Westbrook in Oklahoma City, but he’s only shooting 30% from three. According to Micah Adams from ESPN Stats and Info, of the 353 NBA players with over 300 minutes played this season, Payne’s PER of 6.1 is tied for 349th with Paul Zipser.
Anthony Morrow has made a career out of being a three-point specialist, but is only shooting 29% from long range this season. He’s also 31 years old. He still provides floor spacing because teams will respect his range based on reputation, but he needs to find his shooting stroke again to provide any value.
Lauvergne is a 25 year old center in his third year in the league after coming over from France. He’s only averaging 14.8 minutes per game this year, and has never averaged over 18 minutes in any of his three seasons. He doesn’t space the floor at all, and will likely struggle to find minutes in the Bulls frontcourt rotation behind both Robin Lopez and Cristiano Felicio.
The Bulls could have gone in a couple directions at this deadline. They could have dealt Butler, and whatever other veterans they could move, and start to fully rebuild. Or they could have worked to get a couple players who compliment Butler better than the current roster and seen what a team truly built around him could look like. Instead they opted to make one move that is lateral at best. None of the players they got will really help them in a playoff push, nor are they building blocks for the future. They didn’t really get much younger or athletic. Instead, the season will finish in the same way it’s played out thus far, with the Bulls making a pointless push for one of the final Eastern Conference playoff spots, while they remain unsure of whether they are going to build around Butler or look to the future.