Veteran Mike Dunleavy has been said to be garnering interest from the trade market, and the team should definitely move him before the trade deadline passes on February 20.
It may seem confounding to advocate getting rid of a player who has become one of the few reliable sources of offensive production.
But given his intended role when he was first signed and the new direction in which Gar Forman and John Paxson seem to be taking the franchise, Dunleavy needs to be flipped for an asset that fits the long-term vision of the front office.
Services No Longer Needed
Dunleavy was supposed to be the missing puzzle piece that helped head coach Tom Thibodeau’s original core get back to challenging for the NBA championship.
Derrick Rose was back, the other essential players were healthy and the young guys were budding, making the high title expectations more of an attainable reality than lofty pining.
Dunleavy was supposed to be the guy who helped pull it all together, a versatile swingman who could stretch the floor for Rose, make the three-point shots the squad was lacking just a season prior and use his basketball I.Q. to raise his teammates’ level of play.
As fate would have it, those best laid plans went horribly awry when Rose suffered a torn meniscus that sidelined him for a second consecutive season.
That injury would have ripple effects that are still undulating through this franchise.
With no hope of hoisting the Larry O’Brien trophy, issues that could have been addressed in the summer of 2014 became urgent priorities.
First, the uncertainty of Deng’s future was resolved when he was dealt to the Cleveland Cavaliers for Andrew Bynum in a move to get some financial relief since the latter was immediately waived.
As for the looming present, Dunleavy may be becoming a member of the odd-man-out club.
The cast of players that he was to support is no more, making his talent and effort wasted with each minute he plays.
With the front office’s sights firmly set on retooling for Rose’s second return, Dunleavy is now a means to an end thanks to the gritty business side of professional sports.
Let’s Make a Deal
It’s not a question of whether or not Dunleavy can be moved; his potential contributions coupled with the value of his contract would make him desirable for any contender.
But, of course, what the Bulls want in return has to be established first.
Going by the two player transactions they have already made, the team is definitely in the market for draft picks and/or expiring contracts.
Looking over the Rockets’ roster, the only two players who are in the final year of their deals are Greg Smith and Aaron Brooks.
The total value of their salaries is not enough to make a trade with Chicago financially viable, so more compensation in the form of a draft pick or cash considerations might be needed.
It may be hard to stomach what looks like giving up two players and then some for a role player on the wrong side of thirty with 11 years of NBA miles on his body; however, Smith is seldom used and there are two other reserve point guards who can fill in for Brooks.
To Houston, Dunleavy could be the one guy that gives the team what it has always needed to go from perennial playoff team to Western Conference contender in a short amount of time.
Even if the Rockets aren’t Forman and Paxson’s team of choice for a potential trade, there are a number of other teams on the cusp of breaking through who might be willing to part with couple of draft slots or ending deal to land a consistent contributor.
No Upside to Retaining
The ultimate driver for swapping Dunleavy is that the Bulls gain nothing by keeping him.
Management is clearly moving on to the next plan for putting together another winning team and could use a player of his caliber to help land the prospects or the picks to help that design come to fruition.
His parting would surely make it harder for the Bulls to keep exceeding expectations and staying in playoff contention, but the upside of that would be a higher spot in what is shaping up to be a very deep draft.
If the front office would like to be fair in their would-be dealing of Dunleavy, they could trade him to a winning team to give him a chance to end his career on a high note.
But overall, this is a case of quantitative utilitarianism where the good would have to benefit the most number of people involved.
What could have been this year, and possibly the next if Rose’s injury never happened, will never be realized; however, keep in mind that old things must end before new things can begin.
The Bulls have to move on and need players who can stick around for more than another season.
Dunleavy no longer fits the mold in Chicago, but he probably does somewhere else.
Chicago should do right by him and the franchise and part ways.