NBA Trade Speculation: Under-the-Radar Moves Chicago Bulls Could Make
USA TODAY Sports
The Chicago Bulls have no urgent need to make a major trade deadline move, but a minor move could be well within their interest.
This is especially true because Chicago's core players (Joakim Noah, Luol Deng, Carlos Boozer and Taj Gibson) are having stellar campaigns, and solidified role players (Jimmy Butler, Nate Robinson and Marco Belinelli) have emerged in eye-opening fashion.
The Rose-less Bulls have certainly held their heads above water through the first half of 2012-13. They possess a 29-19 record, situating them in the upper echelon of the Eastern Conference.
Considering the way they've played without Rose, it's scary to think about how good this team can be with him. Because of this, the Bulls don't need to tinker with any blockbuster trade scenarios. Their current squad, when fully healthy, is already at an elite level that can contend for a title.
With that said, a minor move prior to the trade deadline could fill a void in Chicago's rotation. Right now, they're currently lacking a stable backup center. Veteran Nazr Mohammed is simply not fit to log minutes anymore, and there's great wisdom in Chicago exploring alternatives.
Such an acquisition doesn't need to be a high-level player, simply a big man who is serviceable—a player who can eat up minutes when the Bulls' bigs are in foul trouble, as well as competently fill in if there's an injury.
Below are five moves the Bulls should consider making. Such minor alterations could complete their roster and place them in the best position to make a run at the NBA pinnacle come May and June.
Trade No. 1 (See it on Trade Machine):
Bulls get: C Timofey Mozgov, SF Quincy Miller
Denver Nuggets get: SG Richard Hamilton, C Nazr Mohammed, 2013 second-round pick
Timofey Mozgov is used sparingly in Denver's rotation, and his contract is up come the summer. Therefore, there's reason for his name to be dangled in trade potentials, and the Bulls are a fitting destination for the 26-year-old Russian.
Mozgov would give the Bulls depth in the frontcourt, depth that is clearly needed after their recent loss to the Indiana Pacers. Without the injured Joakim Noah, the Bulls were out-rebounded 47-35. Their bench notched only five total rebounds.
This is where their lack of frontcourt depth could come back to bite them. If an injury occurs come playoff time (or mere foul trouble), the Bulls need a big body to clog up space and grab boards. Mozgov is this type of player.
ESPN analyst and NBA expert Michael Wilbon wisely vouched for this maneuver on Twitter last night:
if Bulls have a way to get Mozgov they should do it now! With no Asik Bulls can't handle Pacers w/out adding some size...— Michael Wilbon (@RealMikeWilbon) February 5, 2013
For Denver, they'll probably lose Mozgov to free agency in the offseason if they don't trade him, so they'll likely just seek to get what they can for him. It won't be anything special, since he hasn't been used much.
Inheriting Hamilton provides them with a veteran presence amid their young core. They also nab a second-round pick to store in their pocket.
Trade No. 2 (See it on Trade Machine):
Bulls get: C Brandan Wright, 2013 first-round pick
Dallas Mavericks get: PG Marquis Teague, 2013 first-round pick
Brandan Wright would be a significant addition to the Bulls' second unit. Check out Wright's per-36 numbers for 2012-13, courtesy of Real GM Sports: 16.8 points per game, 7.2 rebounds per game and 2.2 blocks per game. He's also boasting a lofty 62.3 percent field goal percentage.
Some Bulls fans may think Wright's services are not worth bidding farewell to youngster Marquis Teague, who has impressed on occasion as a rookie.
However, what makes this deal enticing for Chicago is the swap of draft picks. Dallas is currently 20-28 and will very likely miss the playoffs, which makes this a likely lottery pick for Chicago.
With this in view, it could be well worth the Bulls casting away Teague, despite his potential. This deal not only lands them a quality backup center, but it also provides them with a intriguing first-round selection come the summer.
From Dallas' perspective, they land an exciting young point guard in Teague who could become a featured weapon for them in the next few years.
Trade No. 3 (See it on Trade Machine):
Bulls get: C DeJuan Blair, 2013 second-round pick
San Antonio Spurs get: C Nazr Mohammed, 2013 first-round pick
DeJuan Blair, like the aforementioned centers, would give the Bulls a superb upgrade to their "Bench Mob." His per-36 statistics for his career, courtesy of Real GM Sports, are worth a look: 15.0 PPG, 11.2 RPG, 1.6 steals per game.
Blair's a thick body who has learned the dandy defensive principles of Gregg Popovich. This would help him transition smoothly to Tom Thibodeau's rigorous defensive system.
From San Antonio's perspective, Blair is growing expendable, and his contract is up at season's end. He will very likely venture elsewhere come the offseason, and this trade lands the Spurs a first-round pick before that can happen.
Plus, while Mohammed is a downgrade from Blair, he was a Spur from 2004-06. He understands the system and would aptly adjust to San Antonio's schemes.
Trade No. 4 (See it on Trade Machine):
Bulls get: C Zaza Pachulia, 2013 first-round pick
Atlanta Hawks get: SG Richard Hamilton, PG Marquis Teague
Zaza Pachulia (who is currently injured, but listed as day-to-day) is another capable center who can effectively grab rebounds and score near the bucket. He'd be a worthwhile addition to the Bulls' roster.
What makes this deal compelling is what's involved outside of Pachulia. Teague is the key factor for Atlanta. His brother, Jeff, already plays for the Hawks and could conveniently provide tutelage for his ascending younger brother.
But, acquiring Teague would come at a cost for Atlanta, and that cost is their first-round pick this June. With the Hawks currently sliding down the Eastern Conference standings, this pick could be in the top 20. This gives the Bulls a pick to potentially replace Teague with or perhaps boost depth at another position.
Trade No. 5 (See it on Trade Machine):
Bulls get: C Enes Kanter, PG Jamaal Tinsley, 2013 second-round pick
Out of all the trades listed here, this one is the most riveting. It may function as a minor move during this season, but in the future, this could be looked upon as a blockbuster.
Enes Kanter is a blossoming big man who is oozing with upside. He is just 20 years old and already possesses a hefty figure—6'11'' and 267 pounds. This is why he was the third overall selection in the 2011 NBA draft.
Currently, he's stuck behind Utah's Al Jefferson in the rotation. He only nets 14.2 minutes per outing, but his per-36 numbers, courtesy of Real GM Sports, are eye-popping for a player of his age: 15.4 PPG (53.4 percent field goal percentage, 72 percent from the free-throw line), 10.2 RPG and 1.1 BPG.
Kanter would most definitely give Chicago a more potent backup center this season, but he would also become a core piece to their future. He is the type of player who could develop into an All-Star-caliber offensive threat who could thrive with D-Rose and Co.
From Utah's perspective, they are in dire need of a point guard, and Teague could become their floor general for the future. Plus, they also inherit two first-round picks, one of which is a future first-rounder courtesy of Charlotte, a pick that will very likely end up as a top-10 selection in the coming years.
What's more, the Jazz currently have a logjam of big men (Jefferson, Paul Millsap, Derrick Favors and Kanter), but their guard play is shaky. Therefore, there's reason for them to trim their frontcourt while bolstering their guard play.
Overall, these are the types of moves Chicago should ponder. If they can land an able backup frontcourt player at the right price, then they should jump on the opportunity. Such a move could solve the one weakness Chicago's roster has at the moment—a backup center who can spell Noah and Boozer when need be.
And who knows, perhaps an ultra-intriguing deal like the last one will present itself. Such a move could ultimately strike gold as the Bulls look toward the future.
No matter what, the focal point for Chicago is getting this team healthy as the playoffs near. A minor move could be helpful, but the Bulls shouldn't force it. They should only entertain deals that solidify their roster convincingly, where the deal potentially lands the player who is the final piece to the championship puzzle.
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