3 Trade Targets for Bulls to Pursue at 2022 Deadline
There is a tangible air of excitement around the Chicago Bulls this season, and it has nothing to do with their Windy City roots.
Buoyed by an MVP-caliber impact from DeMar DeRozan and the defensive surge credited in no small part to fellow newcomers Alex Caruso and Lonzo Ball, the Bulls rank among the NBA's most pleasant surprises. As of Tuesday night, their .630 winning percentage ranked second in the Eastern Conference and fifth-best overall.
This success has sustained long enough to view it as a full-fledged transformation, which could shape the front office's direction leading up to the Feb. 10 trade deadline. With championship dreams manifesting into championship goals, the Bulls could consider making a big swing during swap season, even if it robs them of witnessing the intriguing future of an up-and-comer like Patrick Williams or Coby White.
They may also justifiably think they have enough (or close to enough) to contend right now, in which case they could retain their top trade chips, make moves around the margin and hope their climb eventually leads to basketball's mountaintop.
Either way, the following three players stand out as possible trade targets.
Harrison Barnes, Sacramento Kings
When the Bulls are at full strength, their starting lineup is nearly without weaknesses.
The lone exception, though, is a two-way forward to slide into Javonte Green's spot, allowing the defensive energizer to slide into a better-fitting off-the-bench role.
Harrison Barnes could be a home run addition. He fits at (and capably defends) either forward spot, hits his open shots (career 38 percent from deep) and can create his own offense in a pinch. He will pop every now and then and can carry an offense on those nights but will more often serve in a low-maintenance, rock-solid support role.
Would he be worth the subtraction of Williams? That's up to the front office to decide. In a vacuum, though, there is no question Barnes would be a big addition to the Bulls.
Nicolas Batum, Los Angeles Clippers
If the Bulls take a budget-conscious approach to the deadline, that will obviously limit the caliber of player they can afford. Having said that, even a relatively minor deal for the right kind of role player could have a positive impact.
Nicolas Batum could be the clearance option who upgrades their two-way play at the forward spots. His game is all smarts and versatile skills, and his willingness to make the extra pass would quickly endear him to his teammates.
With elbow surgery potentially on the table for Paul George, the Clippers could emerge as surprise sellers. Batum, a 33-year-old with a player option for next season, would be an obvious candidate to trade and should quickly attract the attention of all win-now shoppers in the forward market.
Jerami Grant, Detroit Pistons
While this won't be determined until the deadline, it's possible Jerami Grant becomes the best player moved this trade season.
There's no certainty he will be traded since he is under contract for another season, but it makes sense for the Pistons to explore the possibility. They probably won't win soon enough to maximize the 27-year-old's prime, and they should fetch a better package now than they would next season, when he would only be a partial-season rental.
The Bulls are in on the bidding for Grant, but they are trying "to land Grant without sacrificing promising swingman Patrick Williams," per B/R's Jake Fischer. It's unclear if that's doable, though, as Chicago might have a tricky time forming the best offer without including the 2020 No. 4 overall pick.
There is a universe in which the finalized version of Williams is a better player than Grant at his peak, so the Bulls' hesitations here are reasonable. But there are also a lot of outcomes wherein Williams lands well short of that mark, so Chicago could conclude that the certainty of Grant and immediacy of his impact means more to the franchise than Williams' long-term outlook.