Chicago Bulls executives: General Manager Gar Forman (left) and Vice President of Basketball Operations John Paxson (right)
The Chicago Bulls have been a pretty busy team when engaging in the trade market.
A blockbuster swap may not be on the team’s agenda, but that doesn’t mean they should bow out of exploring options.
Their deal sending Luol Deng to the Cleveland Cavaliers for Andrew Bynum seems to be the biggest move they are going to make; however, there are a number of smaller pacts they could execute that could pay big dividends.
Chicago still needs a scorer, a young center and more cap room would be nice, too.
If the Bulls are looking to keep it low-key, here are three inconspicuous trades that could pay off in big ways.
Bulls Get Will Barton/Portland Trail Blazers Get a Second-Round Pick
With this deal Chicago gets a prospect who could help bring an offensive punch to the backcourt.
Even though he hasn’t shown it much during regular-season contests with the Portland Trail Blazers, Will Barton is a solid scorer who can shoot from mid-range and take a defender off the dribble.
There doesn’t seem to be much of a chance for the former Memphis Tiger to break in the City of Roses.
The Blazers’ starting perimeter guys all play heavy minutes and the only reserve who tops the 20-minute threshold is Mo Williams.
In their present form, head coach Terry Stotts seems pretty set with his rotation.
Since he so infrequently used, maybe Portland wouldn’t mind parting with Barton.
Chicago could offer a second-round draft pick, which would be equal value considering the player in question was the 40th pick in the 2012 NBA draft.
There are definitely options when offering the selection.
The Bulls could either give up their position or they could give Portland what was theirs in the first place and hand over one of the Blazers’ second-round choices acquired from the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Bridgetown would be able to target someone more fitting and Chicago would be able to see if Barton is a bargain or a bust.
Bulls Get Ognjen Kuzmic/Golden State Warriors Get Erik Murphy
This trade takes both teams’ least used players and puts them where they may be better utilized.
While head coach Tom Thibodeau normally has an old-school mindset when it comes to dealing with rookies, his use of Tony Snell shows that he is not completely against playing first-year guys.
Erik Murphy hasn’t cracked the lineup much this season.
To date it seems like the former Florida Gator's most important role has been suiting up so the team can floor enough players.
His offensive talents are languishing in Chicago, and Golden State’s offensive scheme seems much more fitting for his skill set.
Given his complimentary attributes, the first-year power forward would stand a better chance of getting floor time with the Warriors.
In return for shipping Murphy to the bay, the Bulls would get a player who can inject some youth into the center position.
Joakim Noah is not a fogey by any stretch of the imagination, but reserve center Nazr Mohammed is 36 years old and showing no signs of unlocking his Benjamin Button gene.
Noah’s playing time has been managed well enough this season that injuries have not plagued him like past years.
But the two-time All Star is getting older, and it would prove wise to have a younger backup who can effectively handle extended stretches of playing time.
According to his NBA.com draft profile, Kuzmic has great length, is agile and very adept at timing block attempts.
He may not be big enough to bully opposing centers but that will come as he continues to mature.
Kuzmic would give the team an athletic, defensive minded second-string center much in the same vein is former Bull Omer Asik—and for a lot less money.
A trade like this mutually benefits both teams, and each club could at least take solace knowing they didn’t give up much to begin with should it not work out.
Bulls Get Vince Carter/Dallas Mavericks Get Mike Dunleavy
This deal may not be as under the radar as the prior two, as it would be hard to miss something like a team who struggles to score as much as Chicago giving up one of its best shooters.
However, neither of these guys are prime draws so it’s still a small transaction.
It may be hard to see what Chicago would be gaining from this swap.
Both players are pretty even statistically. Field-goal, three-point and free-throw shooting percentages are all within five points of each other.
Chicago would lose a stretch-4 player but get someone who is a truer shooting guard and can still occasionally attack the basket.
What would be the point to making a trade where there’s no discernible upgrade?
The answer is purely financial.
Dunleavy’s deal is a bargain considering he admittedly took less money to play in Chicago, but the front office’s two transactions this season have both been financial ones (waiving Bynum and swapping Marquis Teague for Toko Shengelia’s expiring deal).
Carter’s salary is similar to what Chicago is already paying its experienced swingman, and it does not extend beyond this season.
This deal is a two for one where the Bulls get a guy who can contribute just as well as Dunleavy and more fiscal wiggle room in the offseason.
The Fruits of Moderation
Do the Chicago Bulls need to make any more transactions before the trade deadline?
When retooling a roster, it’s not always best to simply blow it up and start from scratch.
Sometimes it takes strategic movement in order to set up a bigger, better payoff down the line.
Chicago can’t afford to make a blockbuster deal even if it wanted to.
Any prospect it would want to pursue would be a one or two-year rental who would be acquired at the expense of some players who were locked in for the long haul.
The Bulls can keep it small from here on out.
Management has big plans with pursuing Nikola Mirotic this summer, and bringing him in with too many new faces may not be best in facilitating his transition to the NBA.
Low-risk trades would serve the team better since they provide the chance of landing assets without giving up too much in the process.
Just like the ripples that emanate from a pebble thrown into a still pond, concentrated transactions like these could have far-reaching effects.