The Chicago Bulls have been a franchise that has been stuck in no man’s land. They haven’t made the playoffs since Jimmy Butler got traded. Right now they have a mix of young picks and established veterans with okay contracts. The Bulls were bad enough to get the No. 4 overall pick: however that won’t be enough to kickstart a franchise that has been in losing mode for the last few years.
On draft day, the Bulls may make a trade for an established star. Having an established star is always good for rebuild purposes, and could make the process go faster. Stars win championships, and building around a star is easier than drafting one. Here are 3 trades that the Bulls can make on draft day that set them up with a star while retaining draft picks for the future.
3. Paul George
Chicago Bulls Receive: Paul George
Los Angeles Clippers Receive: Zach LaVine, Lauri Markkanen, Thaddeus Young
Everyone saw Paul George’s meltdown in the playoffs and a lot of critics have attacked George for his performance. However, a few games don’t define a player, and people forget that not too long ago George was an MVP candidate. When George is hot then he is an extremely smooth scorer and a great facilitator. The Chicago Bulls could take a chance on the 6-time All-Star while helping the Clippers build a future, and add suitable pieces around Kawhi Leonard. George is an aging star, and his value on the trade market has been lowered: the Bulls could strike while the iron is hot.
Zach LaVine and Lauri Markkanen are two young players whose games would fit seamlessly with a superstar. LaVine’s game is tailor-made for the playoff game: LaVine is a great creator on the offensive end, being one of the few bright spots for the Bulls in a torrid season. He could be a secondary star behind Kawhi Leonard, like Paul George. Markkanen is a young big man who could develop into a shooting big similar to Gallinari or Porzingis. They would work with Leonard on the offensive end, but their defense could be a concern. Thaddeus Young should help with the defense, however: he’s a switchable defender and a solid role player. This package would give the Clippers a decent package for a star who underperformed when it matters most.
2. Russell Westbrook
Chicago Bulls Receive: Russell Westbrook
Houston Rockets Receive: Zach LaVine, Lauri Markkanen, Thaddeus Young
There have been rumors of the Rockets blowing it up. With their main assets being their stars, they are most likely looking for some young player who can replicate some of their superstar production. Russell Westbrook had a great regular season with the Rockets but could be traded due to his showing in the playoffs. Westbrook’s fit with Harden was always questionable: despite the Rockets’ best attempts to make it work, the Rockets never seemed consistent enough. Westbrook’s style of play is super ball-dominant: what better place to play that way than the Bulls?
In this scenario, the Bulls would send LaVine and Markkanen again: those two are probably the centerpieces of any trade for a star. If Harden gets traded as well, then this package could be good for the Rockets’ future, along with any assets received from trading Harden. We have seen Zach LaVine light up the scoreboard on a bad team: that could happen with the Rockets if they trade for him. LaVine would be great for the now and the future.
Markkanen would also be a great asset: if the Rockets could develop him properly, Markkanen could become a great complementary player to any high octane scorer. Thaddeus Young is sent as well: the Rockets will need some vets who help their young players, and Young fits the bill. It would be hard for the Rockets to pass up a 25.5 PPG scorer in LaVine while also receiving a great big man in Markkanen: this trade seems good for their prospects.
1. Joel Embiid
Chicago Bulls Receive: Joel Embiid
Philadelphia 76ers Receive: Zach LaVine, Lauri Markkanen, Wendell Carter Jr.
Joel Embiid is one of the best stars to build around. Embiid is a unicorn big man who can do a little bit of everything. Shoot, defend, and score, you name it and Embiid can do it. A dominating inside presence with immense rim-protecting ability is the best way to describe the big man from Cameroon. The 76ers might not want to trade Embiid: but if they question his fit with Ben Simmons then it may happen. Embiid is too good of a player to let go for scraps: the Bulls would have to entice the 76ers to let this trade happen.
The trade considers the players’ fit around Simmons. Zach LaVine and Markkanen are both great at shooting. Ben Simmons’ best year was when he had Robert Covington and Dario Saric; both great shooters at the forward positions. Zach LaVine’s fit with Simmons is nothing short of amazing. LaVine can space the floor and create for himself while letting Simmons focus on running the rest of the offense. The 76ers have lacked an elite isolation scorer since Jimmy Butler left for Miami: this could be the trade that brings one in.
Lauri Markkanen and Wendell Carter Jr. would be the big men who would be hypothetical replacements for Embiid. While Carter Jr. wouldn’t necessarily start for the 76ers due to spacing issues, he could be a great energy big for the future. Markkanen’s fit with Simmons is intriguing: Embiid can shoot but isn’t known as a shooter, while Markkanen’s shooting at his size is what makes him distinctive. Markkanen is also sneaky athletic and can get up for posterizing dunks when given the license to do so. Trading LaVine and Markkanen to the 76ers could only improve their future: they would be playing with an elite passer in Simmons while getting a heavy amount of touches.