The Chicago Bulls are 10-14 and have lost eight of their past 12 games. That has them in 12th place in the Eastern Conference, a spot that wouldn't even get the team a berth for the NBA Play-In Tournament at the end of the 2022-23 season.
Is it time to start thinking about Chicago being a seller at the Feb. 9 trade deadline? Or is it still too early for that?
Either way, the rumor mill continues to churn, and some key Bulls players are getting featured in the buzz. According to Michael Scotto of HoopsHype, some teams are keeping an eye on the situation in Chicago.
"Many NBA executives I've spoken to around the league are closely monitoring the Bulls since they've underwhelmed so far and Lonzo Ball's health is a major question mark," he wrote.
Scotto reported that there was "a lot of interest" in DeMar DeRozan and that some will likely be keen on Zach LaVine. Nikola Vučević is also a player who may emerge in trade buzz.
"His value since coming to Chicago has gone down comparatively to when Chicago made that blockbuster trade to get him," Scotto wrote of the Montenegrin.
With all of these talented players on the Bulls' roster, it's a bit surprising they haven't played better early in the season. They ended a four-year playoff drought last year, and it seemed likely they would build off that showing.
Instead, Chicago hasn't strung together more than two consecutive wins through its first 24 games. It's been on the wrong end of quite a few competitive matchups, too.
Still, it may be just a bit too early for the team to consider trading any of DeRozan, LaVine or Vučević. They may not have Ball, but they have a solid core of players with proven track records who should be faring better as a unit.
If Chicago insists on trading one, Vučević would likely be the best choice.
The 32-year-old will be a free agent at the end of the season, and his numbers are down a bit. He would bring a smaller return, but DeRozan and LaVine are more important to the Bulls' long-term future.
Sure, DeRozan and LaVine could land Chicago sizable return packages likely featuring some substantial draft capital. But the Bulls are also only a half-game out of a play-in spot and two-and-a-half games back of the Indiana Pacers, who are at No. 6 in the East.
That's why the next two months will be important for Chicago. If things really spiral out of control, then it may be wiser for the team to explore these trade markets. The situation will be clearer at that point.
For now, though, Chicago should hold onto its core players and try to get its season on track. The Bulls have talent, so they just need to do a better job of going out and showing it in games.