Tired: Complaining about no trades; Wired: Welcoming Westbrook

The best part of a quiet trade deadline is listening to all the complaints about why the general manager didn't pull off the mythical deal that would magically turn the team into a title contender.

In the Bulls' case, it was pretty easy to spot the problems. Their choices were trade one of the top scorers and surrender to another rebuild, sell low - really low, most likely - on one of the younger players, or say goodbye to someone who actually does useful things consistently, like Alex Caruso.

For example, take a look at the rumored offer from the Knicks for Zach LaVine. There's no way of knowing if this was actually on the table, but it sounds about right: Derrick Rose, Evan Fournier, Obi Toppin, Quentin Grimes and three first-round picks.

Stockpiling first-round picks is trendy in the NBA. Well, the Knicks have three first-rounders next year, according to - from Dallas, protected 1-10; from Detroit, protected 1-18; and from Washington, protected 1-14.

That's not very exciting, but the picks don't have to be in 2023. Great, so let's wait two or three years to draft a 19-year-old who will take five years to develop. Sounds like a championship formula.

The Bulls could win Brownie points for bringing Rose back to Chicago. But Fournier, who's barely played this season, is still owed $19 million next year. So it's easy to see why the Bulls passed on this rumored deal.

My idea was going after Charlotte forward Jalen McDaniels. He ended up in Philadelphia for two second-round picks and Svi Mykhailiuk. That's a deal the Bulls should have been able to make, but they have no second-rounders for the next three years. One was forfeited for tampering with Lonzo Ball.

When John Paxson was in charge, he liked to shake things up at the trade deadline. But for every John Salmons, there were many more like Flip Murray, Hakim Warrick, Joe Alexander, Cedric Simmons and Jerome James.

So don't sweat Thursday's inaction. Arturas Karnisovas has his work cut out this summer, but it's safe to say he didn't turn down the deal of the century this week.

A Vucevic conundrum:

The biggest problem with the Bulls right now is they're working on two different planes. DeMar DeRozan, Nikola Vucevic and Zach LaVine are in their prime years, while Patrick Williams, Coby White and Ayo Dosunmu are still in the growing pains phase.

The best path is probably putting the young guys to the side and adding some veterans who can help make the most of DeRozan's last gasp of prime time.

What to do with Vucevic when he becomes a free agent this summer is a real brainteaser.

Ideally, the Bulls would prefer to bring him back for one year, so there's a possibility of opening cap room in 2024 when DeRozan's contract ends. But at 32, Vucevic isn't going to take a one-year deal if he gets offers for a longer contract.

If they don't bring him back, then who plays center? And what sort of interest will Vucevic get on the open market?

That's tough to predict, but consider this: How many centers average more points plus rebounds than Vucevic's 29.3? Answer: Five - Joel Embiid, Anthony Davis, Nikola Jokic, Bam Adebayo and Kristaps Porzingis.

How about a list of centers who rank below Vucevic in defensive rating? Answer: Dwight Powell, Ivica Zubac, Myles Turner, Jusuf Nurkic, Porzingis, Clint Capela, Jonas Valanciunas, DeAndre Ayton, Jalen Duren and more.

Toronto just sent a first-round draft pick to San Antonio to get Jakob Poeltl, who might get my vote for the league's worst defensive center. In other words, Vucevic is still better than most of his peers.

So this is a tough one, and we didn't even mention the Bulls having to pay the luxury tax to bring back Vucevic and add some helpful veterans.

Waiting on Westbrook:

On Thursday night, there were reports Russell Westbrook would head to the Clippers once he agrees to a contract buyout with Utah. Now there's talk the Clippers will pass and Westbrook is deciding between the Bulls and Miami.

Plenty of stories were published calling the Lakers' decision to add Westbrook a disaster. Noted, but if they get the chance, the Bulls should sign the former MVP.

For all his flaws, no one has ever questioned Westbrook's compete level. And if there's one thing the Bulls need right now, it's to compete harder.

And it's not like they'd be offering a four-year contract. It's a 25-game tryout. Genius move or disaster, Westbrook would make the Bulls fascinating to watch.

Twitter: @McGrawDHSports

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If they get the chance, the Bulls should sign former MVP Russell Westbrook. For all his flaws, no one has ever questioned Westbrook's compete level. And if there's one thing the Bulls need right now, it's to compete harder. Associated Press
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