Bulls Q&A: While waiting for Ball to return, any chance to improve roster at deadline?

The Bulls have had an eventful week, drawing crowds in Paris during the lead up to Thursday's game against the Detroit Pistons at Accor Arena.

The team visited the Eiffel Tower on Wednesday. Earlier, Derrick Jones Jr. proposed to his girlfriend, who said yes. And there have been other notable events in the City of Lights.

DeMar DeRozan, who missed the past three games with a right quad strain, is not listed on the injury report. So the Bulls expect him to play,

While we're waiting for the game to start, it's a good time to answer some questions, submitted via Twitter:

Q: What would be one deal you would make as GM to position the Bulls as contenders in the East in the coming years?


A: In the fictional world where I am general manager, I'd do a reverse Nikola Vucevic deal, sending him back to Orlando for Wendell Carter Jr., Franz Wagner and the Bulls' 2023 first-round pick, which would be No. 8 or 9 at the moment. That was just too much to give up for Vuc.

Or maybe I'd go back in time and try to interest Zach LaVine in a sign-and-trade with Utah for Donovan Mitchell. But it's too late for either of those moves. The Jazz are probably happy with how the Mitchell trade to Cleveland turned out.

What might be a realistic trade? They could still use some size, specifically someone who could play the four or five in a small lineup. Charlotte's Jalen McDaniels is said to be available. He's 6-9, about to turn 25, averages 15 points and 6.4 rebounds per 36 minutes.

The Bulls can get Portland's first-round pick this year, but it's top-14 protected and right now the Blazers would have the No. 11 pick, so they'd keep it. Would Charlotte take that pick and Tony Bradley for McDaniels? Not sure, but since I'm not a believer in tearing things down, that's my suggestions for a move that could help this season.

Q: What is your guess for this winter trade to improve their player efficiency rating? Jerami Grant looks like a good option for summer. But something this winter? Or a trade to secure a top 5 draft pick? @javierpiles

A: For starters, you rarely see high draft picks change hands in the NBA until after the draft lottery, when teams know exactly where they stand. And even then, they're not traded often. No team is going to trade a potential top-10 pick right now when the possibility exists they could win the Victor Wembanyama sweepstakes in May.

Jerami Grant will be a free agent this summer, but the Bulls have no cap space after giving Zach LaVine and DeMar DeRozan two of the three highest contracts in franchise history. They could try to work out a sign-and-trade, in theory, but Grant is having a good season with the Blazers and might stay there.

How about Nikola Vucevic for Grant, a swap of players on expiring contracts? Actually, that would probably have to look more like Vucevic and Patrick Williams for Grant, considering Grant is four years younger than Vucevic. Not sure the Blazers would go for that unless the Bulls agreed to take back Jusuf Nurkic. In other words, don't see it happening.

Q: Did the Bulls make a mistake by not seeking the Disabled Player Exception for Lonzo Ball? Would mean he's officially done for the year, but it's a very small chance he comes back. Could have been an extra $9.5 million they use to sign someone. @jnevel85

A: One problem here is the possibility of Ball's return has been hanging over the Bulls for quite a while now. They thought he would return at the end of last season, then thought he'd be ready by the fall. After the second knee surgery, a January return was conceivable. At this point, Ball playing this season seems unlikely, but it's not out of the question.

And who could they have added with the exception? They'd be limited to a one-year deal, so not sure how much it would have helped.

Maybe a better second-guess would be signing someone other than Goran Dragic last summer, more of a pure point guard. Dennis Schroder signed the same one-year, minimum deal with the Lakers, for example.

One player I've wondered about is Rajon Rondo, who is sitting at home and is roughly the same age as Dragic. The Bulls could use a floor leader while Ball is on the shelf, someone to get the ball where it needs to go.

Q: What percentage do you feel the Bulls could actually be a buyer at the deadline in hopes of making a push toward the sixth seed, and if they were, what name or names might they target? @ClapperAStephen

A: I'd say the Bulls doing nothing is the most likely scenario. We've seen rumors or suggestions of Coby White for Cameron Payne, or DeMar DeRozan, Alex Caruso and Patrick Williams for LeBron James. Highly doubt either of those would happen.

The problem is, what players make sense for the Bulls to trade? Let's say they're not going to blow up the roster, since that would be a terrible idea.

They could trade White, but they need more 3-point shooting and he's been playing well lately. How does that make sense? How much trade value does Nikola Vucevic have on an expiring contract? Or Patrick Williams as his progress continues at a slow crawl? Probably not much. Williams' potential upside is probably far better than anything they could get for him.

And keep in mind, even if this season ends poorly, there's still the possibility of a step forward next year with some summer moves and maybe even a healthy Lonzo Ball.

Twitter: @McGrawDHSports

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