The Chicago Bulls are viewed as the team to watch ahead of the upcoming NBA trade deadline, but a new rumor suggests they may have different plans. According to Hoop Hype's Mike Scotto, the Bulls may be looking to hold on to their key players as opposed to doing a full rebuild.
That calls into question whether they will actually trade players such as Zach LaVine, DeMar DeRozan, Alex Caruso, and Patrick Williams. Moreover, it could also impact teams such as the New York Knicks, Miami Heat, and Los Angeles Lakers, each of whom had been linked to the Bulls as potential landing spots for their best players.
If true, it would be a baffling decision for Chicago considering they are currently several games below .500 and LaVine will be out for up to a month. By the time he returns, they could be well outside of play-in tournament range. They also don't have much in the way of assets—something moving on from their best players would get them.
Will the Chicago Bulls be buyers instead of sellers at the trade deadline?
While the Bulls seem reluctant to do a full teardown, they could split the difference and trade LaVine while keeping players like Nikola Vucevic, DeRozan, Williams, and Caruso. Trading LaVine probably won't get them much other than spare parts and picks, which might help their rebuild but not their ability to win games.
One possibility has them trading LaVine to the Lakers for D'Angelo Russell, Rui Hachimura, Taurean Prince, and a 2028 top-5 protected pick. Each of those players are solid but they likely won't move the needle much. As a result, it would make more sense to also include DeRozan in another deal and look to repackage some of the players received in exchange for their stars for more assets.
As is, the Bulls aren't bad enough to compete with the Detroit Pistons, San Antonio Spurs, and Washington Wizards for a share of the top odds for the number one pick in the 2024 NBA Draft. On the other hand, they clearly aren't good enough to make the playoffs. That should make the decision to rebuild a simple one, but the Bulls may be having second thoughts.