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NBA Rumors: Chicago Bulls Could Land Rudy Gobert For Nikola Vucevic, Alex Caruso And Two First-Round Picks

NBA Rumors: Chicago Bulls Could Land Rudy Gobert For Nikola Vucevic, Alex Caruso And Two First-Round Picks

The seasons of both the Utah Jazz and the Chicago Bulls ended sourly this year. The Jazz were convincingly trounced by the Dallas Mavericks in the first round of the playoffs, with Dallas going 2-1 in games where Luka Doncic was injured and losing 4-2 overall. The Bulls were no match for the Milwaukee Bucks, as the Bucks wrapped the series up with a 4-1 gentleman's sweep.

Both teams need to desperately make changes to keep their star shooting guards happy. The Jazz have a disgruntled Donovan Mitchell on their hands and the young star could be looking to make his way out now that his preferred coach Quin Snyder has left town. The Bulls already risk losing Zach LaVine as an unrestricted free agent this off-season. So why not make a splash that keeps both sides happy?

The decision between Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell has perplexed the Jazz for years now. But with their partnership looking unsalvageable, Utah could bet on keeping the younger and flashier offensive talent over the defensive monster who is already crossed 30 years in age. If Gobert is to be moved, could the Bulls be the perfect landing spot?

Nikola Vucevic provided a glaring hole defensively on the Bulls this season, with Chicago struggling to defend the paint with the 7-footer. Vucevic isn't an intrinsically atrocious defender, but something about the Bulls' defensive system didn't work for him and he was caught out of position in the paint. He still has a decent offensive skill-set, but it was dwarfed next to Zach LaVine and DeMar DeRozan's wing-heavy offensive style. 

Gobert's value is far greater than that of Vucevic, so what more does Chicago throw in to show to LaVine that they can make an instant run? Picks are going to be natural, with even two being involved. The chance they are unprotected are slim, so basic top-10 protections or pick swaps could help Jazz have a safety net. To make salaries match up, the Bulls will need to throw in someone like Alex Caruso and more salary fillers. 

Trade Package: Rudy Gobert for Alex Caruso, Nikola Vucevic, 2022 18th Overall Pick, 2023 First-Round Pick From Portland (Lottery Protected)

The cost for the Bulls is steep, but the price for Gobert could be high considering the competitive trade market slowly emerging around him with various linked teams. In addition, the Bulls need to make a big splash to ensure that LaVine chooses them in free agency. Keeping DeMar, LaVine, and Lonzo together while adding Gobert could be a recipe for success, even though it is a very expensive team. 


The Jazz Add Depth And Assets For A Future Splash To Get Mitchell A Certified Co-Star

This trade could be crucial to the Jazz's hope of staying competitive while having the flexibility to improve the roster around Mitchell, who just ended his 5th year in the league. He is soon approaching the end of his rookie contract extension and the Jazz need to provide him with a more safeguarded situation than the one he is in right now. The existing core has become stale and Mitchell needs to make the team his own.

Losing Gobert leaves a massive hole in their defense which has already shown serious signs of decline. However, a lot of the issues came from a lack of effort on the perimeter, especially during the Dallas series. The team had gotten accustomed to Gobert being the paint beast he is that they let their rotations slip more than often and ended up putting Gobert in poor situations as well. That coupled with Gobert's inability to be a competent perimeter defender against quick guards made their defensive lapses more significant.    

Vucevic is the opposite of Gobert in terms of the focus he brings to the game. He is way more offensive-minded, something the Jazz have sorely missed from Gobert through the season. Vuc can score in a variety of ways and that can be beneficial to the Jazz's offense that can stagnate sometimes with Gobert on the floor. Alex Caruso adds a crucial element of perimeter defense that the Jazz will have to shore up through minimum signings. Hassan Whiteside proved himself as a competent backup defensive-minded big, so the Jazz have all the right pieces to stay competitive while also getting some more room to work on the roster with more movable pieces. 

The picks that the Jazz receive can be extremely useful, whether it is to build through the draft and still move Mitchell off or whether it is to use them as assets for future tweaks to the roster? Packaging Royce O'Neale with a pick could provide an upgrade at the wing position for the Jazz. Getting Gobert's contract off gives them a little more room to tweak the roster, and these moves could extend their contention window in the West. The Jazz have spent very few seasons without seeing the playoffs, so the team is incentivized to ensure that doesn't happen.  


The Bulls Provide A Win-Now Situation For LaVine In An Incredibly Competitive Eastern Conference

The Bulls returned to being competitive this season in the Eastern Conference for the first time since they had Jimmy Butler. Towards the start of the season, the Bulls managed to rise up to the top of the conference and could have held on to that spot if injuries didn't derail their season. Crucial players like Lonzo Ball, Alex Caruso, Patrick Williams, and Zach LaVine all missed time through the season as the Bulls fell to a lowly seed and got matched up against the Milwaukee Bucks. The Bucks exposed all the defensive holes in the Bulls lineup, especially in the paint. 

Vucevic failed to be an adequate defender for the Bulls in the paint through most of the season and often took a lot of flak for it from the fanbase. With the offensive weapons that the Bulls have, someone like Gobert may be a better fit to ensure their back line is manned by one of the best rim protectors in the league. In addition, Gobert and Lonzo could make for a fascinating pick-and-roll duo, with Lonzo's ability to find passes at the rim and Gobert's high accuracy at converting lobs. 

Gobert's price tag and age will worry the Bulls, and rightfully so. But given the options that they have with their team, this is a very clear upgrade for their hopes of building upon their playoff appearance last season. LaVine could be sold on this new-look team with Gobert and Patrick Williams returning fully healthy. Those are great defensive weapons to have alongside him and DeRozan, with Lonzo also being a good guard defender. The Bulls will have a complete starting five, one that could compete with the absolute best in the conference. They have invested in an aging DeRozan, so they know they need to push to compete right away and give Zach a reason to not leave.


A Fresh Situation Is The Best Situation

These teams could just use a change just to add some new energy to their locker room. Chicago was in year one of their new team, but the roster hasn't been fitting the way people had envisioned. Vucevic has looked out of place, so moving him could allow the team to feel like they are becoming more competitive. A motivated Gobert after how things ended in Utah will be a worrying sight for the Eastern Conference, with his defensive skill-set being extremely hard to replicate elsewhere. LaVine re-signing and coming in with new energy should also give the team a feeling of stability, as their starting five will have multiple years together on their contracts to see this window out for a couple of seasons.

The Jazz need either Gobert or Mitchell gone from their locker room, and there is more upside to keeping the younger Donovan in this guard-dominant league. Whether he has plateaued in his development or whether he lost motivation last season in a clearly troubled situation in Utah is something everyone has on their mind. Gobert leaving and bringing two valuable players instead of him could give Mitchell the motivation he needs to re-apply his fingerprints on this team. If he can be patient and trust the Utah process that has had him in the playoffs for every year of his career, he could benefit greatly. 

The Jazz are far from competing atop the league with their current roster and need to take one step back to give them the room to take two steps forward. With a new coach incoming, a move like this will allow most players to drop any baggage from their time with Snyder in the locker room or even Gobert in the locker room. Mitchell can finally call the team his own and it is a good option for him to spend the last few years of his current contract and see it out with the Jazz. If whatever changes they have to make to the roster don't work, Mitchell can make a clean break and walk as a free agent. Forcing a trade to New York or somewhere else right now may be detrimental in terms of the stability he has come to know. 

Gobert is harder to build around, so Utah have to pick him first when it comes to making a trade. Rudy is older and has a limited offensive skill-set in a league where offense is what sells. However, Gobert is perfect to be the designated big in a system that has multiple offensive weapons around him. The Bulls already have a roster in place that would be complementary to Gobert's style of play. 

For both of these teams, this could serve as the final move to ensure their stars decide to stay with the team and trust the front office to build them a winner. Only one team can win every year in this league, and it can be easier to win if you stick with the system you are intimately familiar with, especially as there are no clear winning alternatives either player could go to outside their current teams. 

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