While the Chicago Bulls have played above most everyone’s expectations this season, they will still likely need to add a power forward if they hope to be a serious contender in the postseason.
There are some low-risk additions the team could make, but in actuality, the kind of move that really figures to move the needle will cost Chicago some valuable assets.
One such move was suggested by Forbes’ Morten Jensen.
He believes the Bulls should go “all-in” in pursuit of a power forward even if that means trading away promising young, but injured forward Patrick Williams.
Jensen’s feasible, but scary trade concept has the Bulls sending Williams and Derrick Jones Jr’s expiring deal to the Sacramento Kings for Harrison Barnes and perhaps Jahm’ius Ramsey.
Barnes is a 29-year-old veteran capable of playing both forward positions. He has won an NBA championship, shoots the three well and is a quality character guy. He would appear to be an ideal fit on a team like the Bulls.
However, does Chicago really want to watch Williams grow out on the west coast?
Any trade of Barnes means a push of the reset button for Sacramento. Effectively, they go tanking to get their hands on Duke’s Paolo Banchero or Gonzaga’s Chet Holmgren. With Williams coming back, the Kings get a player with considerable two-way upside, who is out for the year, thus helping their odds of losing games. A healthy Williams is a fairly huge player, physically. He has a wide body, a near 7-foot wingspan, considerable athleticism, and a clean pull-up jumper that carries with it vast offensive upside. In Sacramento, he’d be given every chance to spread his wings, with De’Aaron Fox, Tyrese Haliburton and Davion Mitchell all setting him up. The Bulls are high on Williams and would hate to see him go. He was the first draft pick made by Arturas Karnisovas and Marc Eversley, selected fourth overall in 2020. The 20-year-old oozes potential, especially defensively where his frame, strength and athleticism could allow him to guard three positions with high regularity. In order for the money to work, Derrick Jones Jr and his expiring $9.7 million deal will need to be added to Williams’ $7.4 million in order to take back Barnes’ $20.2 million. And should roster spots become an issue, the Kings could add guard Jahmi’us Ramsey and his $1.5 million cap hit to the trade, so it becomes a two-for-two framing.
Barnes might make the Bulls one of the favorites in the Eastern Conference, but Williams and DJJ is still a lot to give up.
We all know how much the Bulls might be risking parting ways with Williams, but let’s not undersell the impact of losing DJJ.
He has been fantastic as a roll-man in pick-and-roll, a baseline cutter, occasional wing shooter and the former Slam-Dunk champion has also been strong as a weak-side help defender as well as defending his assignment on-ball.
Jones’ athleticism and versatility have been big. Quite honestly, it would be a shame to lose him unless the Bulls are adding a major piece. Is Barnes a significant enough piece to justify parting ways with both Williams and Barnes?
On the upside, a new starting five of Lonzo Ball, Zach LaVine, DeMar DeRozan, Harrison Barnes and Nikola Vucevic sounds like a title contender. In this scenario, the Bulls hang on to Coby White, who the team hopes will round into shape once he returns from health and safety protocols. There’s also Alex Caruso, Tony Bradley, the recently signed Stanley Johnson, Troy Brown Jr. and increasingly dynamic rookie Ayo Dosunmu. That’s not a bad bench at all with Alize Johnson and Matt Thomas providing increased depth.
There are clear arguments to be made for and against this potential move. Expect to hear more of this sort of chatter for the next few months as we move closer to the NBA Trade Deadline in February 2022.
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