Here are some reasons why Bulls should be caution at trade deadline

  • Patrick Williams is one player the Bulls should hold on to as the trade deadline approaches.

    Patrick Williams is one player the Bulls should hold on to as the trade deadline approaches. Associated Press

Updated 2/3/2022 6:46 PM

We looked at why it makes sense for the Bulls to make a deal before next Thursday's NBA trade deadline.

There is a counterpoint to this argument. Standing pat wouldn't be the worst thing either, for a few reasons.


One is chemistry. Except for the injuries, the Bulls are probably soaring pretty close to their ceiling this season. They have a nice mix of young and old, using players that fit the style being played.

Bring in the wrong player or personality and it could mess up everything. Would a new player be OK with being the No. 4 scoring option or sitting out in crunchtime in favor of Alex Caruso? No one really knows until it happens.

Take Detroit forward Jerami Grant. He signed with the Pistons as a free agent last year because he believed he could be an upper-level scoring option not just a role player. And he was right, he's played well in Detroit.

In theory, he'd be a nice addition to the Bulls, but there's a good chance he wouldn't average 18-20 points on this roster. He'd be tough to pry away from the Pistons, so making a big play for someone who doesn't fit would be a rough mistake.

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The two players with trade-ready, expiring contracts, Derrick Jones Jr. and Troy Brown Jr., have their flaws, but they've also played reasonably well for the Bulls and fit the roles they've been given.

"We like our group a lot, we like the chemistry a lot," Bulls coach Billy Donovan said Thursday. "We want to make sure that continues. I think chemistry in the locker room is really, really critical. Certainly Arturas (Karnisovas) is always going to look at ways to improve the group. I think the one thing we all feel is we like this group a lot."

Another factor is it's possible the missing piece is injured forward Patrick Williams. Don't get carried away here, the second-year pro still has a decent amount of bust potential. He arrived last season talking about being a Kawhi Leonard-style, defensive small forward. It soon became clear he doesn't really have the quickness to be in that role and was moved to power forward before his rookie season ended.

The concern is Williams might turn out to be an in-between forward, who doesn't really fit at either spot. There are plenty of examples in NBA history of this scenario. Williams has a clear talent and that's his shooting. He can hit 3-pointers and has a nice counter to that skill, an ability to put the ball on the floor and knock down runners in the lane.


He's also still 20 years old, so no one really knows where his potential is headed. And he has two more years on rookie-scale contracts. Now is not the time to give up on a No. 4 overall pick.

The easiest trades in the NBA are for guys on bad contracts, because teams are always looking to offload bad deals. That also proves this point, there's no better way to screw up a team's future than with oversized contracts. Being fiscally sensible during the trade deadline is more about being smart than cheap.

The Bulls are guaranteed to have four players making close to $20 million next season and Zach LaVine will likely get a hefty raise. So keeping some financial flexibility will be important.

Some NBA observers have characterized the Bulls as being in "win-now" mode. That's true, but it's also more like a three-year window.

DeMar DeRozan signed a three-year deal. Caruso and Lonzo Ball are signed for four seasons, although Ball has a player option after Year 3. Unless something strange happens, LaVine will be locked in for four or five years this summer.

Ideally, the Bulls want to make a push for the Finals with the current group during DeRozan's three seasons, then keep going as an East contender with a slightly different lineup built around LaVine, Ball, Caruso and the younger players.

The Bulls might have a chance to get better by Thursday, but they could mess up by being too anxious to deal.

Last year, Arturas Karnisovas made a splash by bringing in Nikola Vucevic. This time, he needs to thread the needle.


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