0 of 3
Michael Conroy/Associated Press
If the 2020-21 campaign closed today, the Chicago Bulls would be playing postseason basketball.
Sure, it would be the play-in tournament and perhaps nothing beyond that, but that’s progress for a franchise that hasn’t won even 35 percent of its games in any of the past three seasons. It would be a nod to the impacts of Zach LaVine, Thaddeus Young and coach Billy Donovan, plus potentially valuable on-the-job training for this young core.
This proximity to the postseason could determine Chicago’s direction approaching Thursday’s NBA trade deadline. The Bulls aren’t close enough to contention to empty the war chest, but they could take a semi-big swing at a plug-and-play role player, particularly someone who might stick in the Windy City past this season.
The following three players should appear on Chicago’s radar between now and Thursday’s 3 p.m. ET cutoff.
1 of 3
Matthew Hinton/Associated Press
Chicago can get buckets by the busload out of the backcourt combo of Zach LaVine and Coby White. But since both are more natural scorers than distributors, the assists aren’t nearly as plentiful.
They could be if Lonzo Ball was added to the mix.
As a low-usage table-setter with the shooting touch to space the floor (3.0 threes at a 38.5 percent clip this season), he might be the ideal addition to this perimeter group. It’s unclear if the New Orleans Pelicans are willing to move him, but the Bulls are nevertheless in hot pursuit, per The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor.
Ball could be the best-of-both-worlds kind of target for Chicago. His distributing, defense and downtown shooting would all help the team right now, and at 23 years old, he’s young enough to grow with this core. For that to happen, though, the Bulls would have to cover the costs of his upcoming restricted free agency.
2 of 3
Jacob Kupferman/Associated Press
Chicago has a longstanding need for wing depth, and if it could add another ignitable scorer to the mix, it could skyrocket its 17th-ranked offense.
A trade for Norman Powell would check both boxes.
The 27-year-old is sprinting to the finish line of what will be a perfectly timed contract year. (Technically, he has an $11.6 million player option for next season, but it’ll take him a half-second to decide to decline it.) His scoring and shooting categories are spiking on a nightly basis to the point he’s averaging 19.5 points with an absurdly efficient 49.5/43.4/86.8 shooting slash.
Get Powell in the same offense as LaVine, White and Lauri Markkanen, and Chicago’s opponents would routinely be forced to pick their poisons.
3 of 3
Michael Conroy/Associated Press
Wendell Carter Jr. isn’t Chicago’s center of the future. Neither is Daniel Gafford.
Thaddeus Young is suddenly holding down the starting 5 spot, but he doesn’t belong at the position and obviously isn’t a building block with his 33rd birthday coming in June.
The Bulls need an interior anchor. They might not have to look beyond the Central Division to find one. Myles Turner would be an ideal addition for his paint protection and perimeter shooting, and maybe this will finally be the year in which the Indiana Pacers pull the plug on the jumbo frontcourt combo of Turner and Domantas Sabonis.
Turner might take a few good assets to get, but he could be worth it. He is 24 years old and signed through 2022-23, meaning he could help juice this playoff run and perhaps many more to come.