Posts tagged trade
When it comes to trading for Russell Westbrook, Bulls fans need to make up their minds: is it Oochie Wally or One Mic?
Photo by Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman

Photo by Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman

This isn’t a post advocating for, or against, the Chicago Bulls trading for Oklahoma City Thunder star Russell Westbrook. You’ll certainly see plenty of articles predicting where the 30-year-old MVP will wind up between now and the time he is traded, whether that comes now or at some point during the season. Let’s be frank: those are fun Bleacher Report stories to sift through while you sit on the Red Line hoping that discolored stream trickling down your train cart is actually some high schoolers’ spilled Mango Mania Mystic and not some homeless guy’s piss. However, they’re dry as hell and one of 1,000 that will be typed up by nerdy white dudes with ‘-NBA” on the end of their Twitter handle. Nobody needs more of those.

No, this article is addressed to Bulls fans, some of the most passionate supporters in the world. We have been there for our Bulls through the euphoric highs (three-peat X2, the Derrick Rose-led Bench Mob-by Bulls of 2011) and the dark, depressing lows (the Baby Bulls, Rose’s recurring knee injuries, The Three Alphas). One could argue that more than any team in the NBA, Bulls fans ride for their squad in thin times, evident by the Bulls’ second-place finish in average attendance in 2018-19, another year at-or-near the top of the league for a team that’s led the league in attendance 13 times since their last championship in 1998.

These are very much lean times for the Bulls, entering their third year of a long-overdue rebuild, the first full year of head coach Jim Boylen’s tenure after replacing the out-of-his-league Fred Hoiberg mid-season and limping towards a 22-60 record. Who knows when the Bulls will be competitive in the East again, or how long a fan base already restless for the return of a winning franchise will continue to wait patiently until heads finally roll.

Still, there’s much for Bulls fans to be excited about next season. Lauri Markkanen enters his third year in the league, and despite missing 30 games last season with a sprained elbow and health issues, has flashed glimpses of a future All-Star. Zach Lavine exploded in 2019, finishing in the top 20 in scoring in the NBA. Wendell Carter Jr. started 44 games before a thumb injury ended his season, and the Otto Porter Jr. trade at the deadline brought over a capable three-and-D option on the wing.

Chicago, shockingly, even made good moves in the offseason to improve the club, adding point guard Coby White and big Daniel Gafford in the draft, while signing vets Thaddeus Young and Tomas Satoransky in free agency. The Bulls aren’t back yet, but the hope around Chicago is they’re well on their way.

But while the Bulls were busy resetting the ballclub, something happened across the NBA. The league we once knew got flipped on its ass, and all of a sudden the powers that were are no longer. The Western Conference has balanced out after the Raptors ended the Warriors run this June, with Kevin Durant leaving for the Brooklyn Nets and Klay Thompson set to miss a good chunk of next season with a torn ACL. Now, more teams are gearing up for a run at the Larry O’Brien in 2020. The Clippers - say it with me again - are challenging the Lakers’ big two of LeBron James and Anthony Davis with one of their own, signing Kawhi Leonard away from Toronto and swinging a massive deal with the Thunder for Paul George. Brooklyn will try to make it work without KD next season, while Boston hopes for better returns from Kemba Walker than what the newest Net Kyrie Irving gave them, and the Sixers load up by re-signing Tobias Harris and adding Al Horford. The Heat are trying to build around Jimmy Butler, while the Jazz hope Mike Conley fits perfectly next to Donovan Mitchell. Not to mention the Bucks and reigning MVP Giannis Antetekoumpo, rising squads in Denver and Indy, and established powers in Houston and Golden State.

LOL and the Knicks doing whatever the Knicks are doing.

That brings us back to Russell Westbrook and the Thunder, who according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania, are receptive to trade offers for the eight-time All-Star. It’s not often that a superstar of Westbrook’s caliber - a former MVP coming off his third-consecutive season averaging a triple-double - is available via trade. Speculation has already begun with clubs like the Miami Heat and Detroit Pistons reportedly the frontrunners, but ESPN’s Brian Windhorst named Chicago as a destination that makes sense.

There’s pros and cons to the Westsiders pivoting in the middle of a rebuild to acquire an aging star like Westbrook, and we’ve heard each and every one of them to death on social media since the Paul George to LA trade was announced early Saturday morning. Cries of Westbrook’s alleged poor shooting ability, IQ, attitude, age, and most importantly, the massive contract he signed to stay in OKC that includes a player option of $47,063,478 in 2022-23, have run rampant online. All of those fears are understandable, especially given the time spent to acquire the young pieces the Bulls have over the last few years. However, something doesn’t seem right.

Just a week ago, Bulls fans and media members in the city looked down on the Thaddeus Young and Tomas Satoransky acquisitions, either because they weren’t sexy, or because the Bulls made no effort to attract a superstar this summer or leading up to it. Now, the same ones are writing think pieces and making podcasts about why it would be idiotic for the Bulls to move for a superstar to try and compete in a thin Eastern Conference in 2020.

So what is it, Bulls fans? Is it Oochie Wally or is it One Mic? You decide, but be aware: the clock is ticking.

You can’t clown the Bulls front office for having a plan since the February trade for Porter and sticking with it this summer, then run it back and criticize fans who would be open to trading for one of the ten best players in the game right now. You can’t go on a tweet-storm about Chicago not being an attractive destination for free agents, then say the Bulls would be stupid to add a star that moves them not just a step closer to a title, but closer to attracting top talent in free agency, because it theoretically takes them out of the running for Giannis once he reaches the open market. Bulls fans have not been consistent at all with what they want out of the club, and it’s honestly more frustrating than watching the product on the court.

Do I want the Bulls to engage OKC in conversations for Russ? Hell yeah. He’s in his prime, playing the best basketball of his career, and he will be the same age Chris Paul is now when his contract is up. If he can bring the same level of production at 34 that CP3 has, there’s no reason to worry about his age. He immediately vaults the Bulls into playoff contention, but more importantly the pieces left behind after the trade - almost certainly Markkanen and one of Lavine/Carter Jr. - will elevate their game alongside Westbrook. Coby White would become a casualty of the deal, either going the other way to OKC or coming off the bench for Westbrook, but are we really worried that trading for a future Hall of Famer is going to greatly affect the future of Coby White?

If Gar Forman and John Paxson stick to their guns and avoid a move for Westbrook, I’m fine with that too. Sure the Bulls might be unbearable as hell next season, and maybe the season after that as well, but I won’t lose sleep. Chicago will wait their turn to strike on Giannis or A.D. or some other disgruntled superstar who could boost the club’s chances of winning. Russ definitely speeds up the timeline, but missing out on him doesn’t hurt it either.

But God help me, Bulls fans, pick a lane and stay firmly there. If you bitched and complained about the lack of a push for a star last week, be open to a deal for one the next week. If you demand more from the men in charge, don’t huff and puff and throw a hissy fit online when other fans do the same when they see one of the premier players in the league available. Sometimes it feels like Bulls fans have no idea what they want; they just want a return to the glory days of Bulls basketball, and I get it. 21 years is a mighty long time to be wishing and praying on a come up. But you can’t come up in the NBA if you don’t take chances. See: 2019 Toronto Raptors, 2008 Boston Celtics, and 2004 Detroit Pistons.

Or, yanow, keep whining like the apathetic losers you are. Won’t change how I feel about the Bulls one bit.

A flurry of trades highlight NHL's deadline day

It was an exciting trade deadline day with lots of deals made. Divisions have as many as 6 teams competing for a playoff spot so there were lots of reasons for teams to buy. However, for this exact reason one would be cautious not to sacrifice too much of the future for an uncertain chance. Nevertheless, there were moves made and they will have an impact on the playoff picture this season. Here's a look at the big ones:

Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images

Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images

Tampa Bay Lightning: Ryan McDonagh, J.T. Miller

New York Rangers: Vladislav Namestnikov, Libor Hajek, Brett Howden, a 2018 first-round pick, and a 2019 conditional first-round pick.

This was the big trade of the day that everyone has a take on. It is very complex so not an easy one to pick sides for who got better value or if they each got the same. The Rangers have committed to the rebuild by picking up multiple solid futures for vets Nick Holden, Michael Grabner and Rick Nash. Today they waited until the clock struck 12:00 to complete this blockbuster. Out of all their trades, this seems like the lightest return given that McDonagh is a #1 defenseman with 26 points this year and Miller is a top 6 forward with 40 points thus far. Tampa Bay already were the Cup favourites for me and this move just pushes them even further ahead of the pack. The two prospects and picks won’t be a big loss as their window is now and McDonagh is locked up for one more year. Miller is an RFA this summer and Rangers dealt him to avoid a big payday and will have Namestnikov at a cheaper price coming off the 20-goal season he’s had so far. Hajek and Howden are both very strong prospects who will make an impact for the Rangers in the future. However, none of them are elite prospects which has some questioning the return. The conditional 2019 pick will become a second-rounder if the Lightning do not win the Stanley Cup by then. I would grade this trade as a win for the Lightning.

Photo by Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images

Photo by Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images

San Jose Sharks: Evander Kane

Buffalo Sabres: Dan O'Regan,a 2019 conditional first-round pick, and a 2019 fourth-round pick

The San Jose Sharks needed this deal. Despite excellent goaltending and defense, they have the 24th ranked goal scoring offense at even strength. Evander Kane is a high-level goal scorer who has 20 goals already this season. He is also a stable penalty killer and ranks 10th among forwards in Goals Allowed per 60 on the PK. He’s had 3 straight years with 20 goals for the lowly Buffalo Sabres and will now get the chance to fight for the first playoff games in his career.O’Regan is not an elite prospect but he does offer considerable upside and is close to the big leagues. The 24-year-old German has had 83 points in 94 games in the AHL the past two season and looks to break into the lineup. The 2019 first-round pick to Buffalo becomes a second-round pick if Kane does not re-sign with the Sharks this summer as he is a pending free agent. San Jose should feel happy about this complete top 6 forward rental that could become a long-term fixture in their lineup if he shows out well at a less than premium price. For this reason, one has to think Buffalo failed to capitalize on having a premium rental asset with just a B level prospect and a risky 2019 pick.

Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Vegas Golden Knights: Tomas Tatar

Detroit Red Wings: A 2018 first-round pick, a 2019 second-round pick, and a 2021 third-round pick

Most of the trades on the day worked out in favour of the buyers but this one is a controversial one. Vegas is defying all expectations with an overachieving lineup and needed improvements if they wanted to make a run this year despite their rebuild status as a new team. The team is rich in draft picks but this is a clear move towards contending immediately. These picks make it seem like a steeper price than it actually is because they are spread out over the next 4 drafts. Tatar is not a rental acquisition as he stands to earn $5.3 million per year for the next 3 years. He is currently in his worst full season in the league with under 0.5 PPG but is on pace for his 4thconsecutive 20 goal season. Detroit would have liked to have kept Tatar through the rebuild but this offer was too good to pass up. After decades of success the Red Wings are spiralling down and this is a great move for their new direction.

Photo by Gerry Thomas/NHLI via Getty Images

Photo by Gerry Thomas/NHLI via Getty Images

Winnipeg Jets: Paul Stastny

St. Louis Blues: 2018 first-round pick, rights to forward Erik Foley

This was another surprising trade given the fact there was zero buzz around a Stastny trade. Even more peculiar is that this deal involves the Blues who are right on the edge of a playoff spot. The Blues have had an abysmal February in terms of offense so trading away their 2nd line center is strange. However, it is believed that they couldn’t come to an agreement on a new contract so St. Louis decided to be proactive and deal the 40-point man for a nice return. The Jets missed out on getting Derrick Brassard but Stastny is a nice addition for their 3rd line in a deep lineup. The Jets do have trouble attracting payers to play for them but Stastny was willing to move there and will look to make a positive impact for the team.

Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Other trades: Ryan Hartman went to Nashville for a nice haul including a first round pick. He may be a young forward but this is a step in the right direction for Chicago. The Atlantic division also had some additions with Patrick Maroon and Michael Grabner heading to the Devils and Thomas Vanek to the Blue Jackets. The past few days also saw some big trades. As I mentioned before Rick Nash was dealt to the Boston Bruins and the Toronto Maple Leafs responded by getting Tomas Plekanecso shore up their forward depth. The Pittsburgh Penguins made another big move by acquiring Derrick Brassard as they gear up for another Stanley Cup Run.

Lakers must now look ahead towards the summer of 2018
Kyusung Gong/ AP    

Kyusung Gong/AP

 

While many Lakers fans were hopeful this current team could fight for the 8th seed in the West, inevitably reality sank in for the Los Angeles Lakers. Standing 7.5 games out of a playoff spot at 12-27, it's time for the Lakers to plan ahead for this summer. The only untouchables on the squad are Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram and Kyle Kuzma. Everyone else is available for trade at the deadline to clear up cap space and acquire more assets. Let’s take a look at some possible trade outcomes.


Lakers Receive: DeMarcus Cousins

Pelicans Receive: Julius Randle, Jordan Clarkson and 2020 First Round Pick

This trade should only be explored if DeMarcus is 100% certain he doesn’t want to extend with New Orleans and is 100% committed to signing with the Lakers long term. According to Adrian Wojnarowski, the Pelicans are not listening to trade offers at the moment. Yet if the Pelicans remain around .500 and are still in the playoff hunt around the trade deadline, it would make sense for them to explore options.

The Lakers would be getting a max free agent early, and would get to see how Cousins fits with Lonzo, Kuzma and Ingram for 2 months. The Pelicans get Clarkson who can put up points in a hurry, as well as a potential double-double guy in Randle. The Pelicans would covet another asset in the future first-rounder. They may believe they can re-sign Cousins in the summer, but it would leave them without nearly any cap space with money already owed to Anthony Davis, Jrue Holiday and Solomon Hill. It makes sense to move on and not let Cousins walk for nothing in the summer.


Lakers Receive: Nerlens Noel and Devin Harris

Mavericks Receive: Julius Randle, Luol Deng and 2020 First Round Pick

This is a salary dump the Lakers would be hoping to put on the Dallas Mavericks, while also giving them some assets to work with. Randle would give the Mavs a young talent with restricted free agent status looming while they continue the rebuild, plus a 2020 draft asset. The Lakers would be free up cap space for the summer of 2018 while also giving Nerlens Noel a chance to earn some playing time since he isn’t receiving much in Dallas.
 

Brook Lopez and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope could also be moved to teams that hope to add some talent for their playoff run, but their contracts make them harder to move. If Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka are able to move either one for a late 2018 first rounder, that would be a huge success for the Lakers.

One thing Lakers fans can count on is the front office will be active at the deadline with Magic and Pelinka work to get this franchise back on track. The Lakers and their front office will be judged heavily off of what they can do to prepare for an insane summer in free agency.

Why the Bulls won the Jimmy Butler trade
Credit: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Credit: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Let’s take a trip back to NBA Draft night, June 22nd, 2017.

The night we saw Lonzo Ball become a Laker just as the prophet LaVar Ball predicted. We saw the Celtics and Sixers swap first round picks just days prior to ensure both teams “get their guy”. We also saw the end of an era in Chicago with Jimmy Butler being dealt to the Timberwolves and reunited with his beloved coach Tom Thibodeau.

Let’s talk about why the Bulls WON this trade.

 

Credit: Alyssa Pointer/Chicago Tribune

Credit: Alyssa Pointer/Chicago Tribune

There comes a point where certain teams have a guy headed towards superstar level while the team is headed nowhere in a hurry - nowhere being a perennial playoff team that doesn’t necessarily belong there. Good enough to make it because their best player could carry the load, sure, but bad enough to be first round exits because they aren’t equipped for the marathon.

Those same wins that land bad teams in the playoffs as a 7th or 8th seed ultimately doom them on draft night. They aren’t picking high enough to draft the ‘cream of the crop’, so they’re forced to roll the dice on a prospect. Obviously there are no sure things in sports no matter where you’re drafted, but you need the best available player when you’re thin on talent. Now if you’re a young team like the Sixers or even the Bucks, making the playoffs with no real chance at the title at least gives you hope for what the future holds. When you’re an established team like the Bulls whose playoff seeding is more of a fall from grace than a stepping stone, it’s time to make changes.

In a vacuum, the package of Kris Dunn, Zach LaVine and the 7th overall pick, which would become Lauri Bir-..I mean Markkanen, seems a bit low, right? 

Not if you think about this in totality. 

Usually once a superstar-level player reaches the last two years of his deal, the vultures start to circle. Other teams know this is the shit or get off the pot moment for your franchise and you’ll either accept whatever they offer or they’ll wait you out. In essence, whatever they offer will be too much on their end.

You’ll NEVER receive equal value for an established superstar. Think about it, a sure thing will always be safer than a ‘maybe’. It’s a results based, hindsight is 20/20, blah blah scenario every time. Ask the Hornets about Vlade and Kobe. However, if the pieces you receive are what’s best for YOUR future, then you’ve won. Think Oladipo/Sabonis for Paul George.

You hold on to that superstar player to avoid “looking” like you got fleeced, then lose him in free agency and remove all doubt that the fleecing occurred.

This deal was on the table a year prior, but the Bulls were still determined to wait and see if the Jimmy Butler experience was worth it all. To see if he would regress, or grow to be the player you could build around or trade while his stock was high to get more pieces. The latter occurred and in a surprising turn of events.....GarPax actually made a good decision. I still can’t believe I typed that...and it’s true.

Credit: Chicago Bulls

Credit: Chicago Bulls

Kris Dunn, a former top 5 pick in the draft, was never given a fair shake in Minnesota. We all know Thibs doesn’t play rookies, which isn’t a foreign concept by established coaches. When you’re hired to produce right away, it doesn’t behoove you to bet on potential. So, on the surface it looks like “Dunn couldn’t beat out Rubio for the starting job” when in reality it was never his job to actually ‘win’ because he was still learning.

In reality he’s a much better passer, scorer, and all around player than he was given credit for. He’s averaging 13.4 points per game and 6 assists in just 31 games with the Chicago Bulls, up over his 3.8 points and 2.4 assists in 78 games with Minnesota.

Zach LaVine, a former NBA dunk contest champion, is an incredible athlete. Before suffering a torn ACL in February of 2017, he showed tremendous upside and that he wasn’t just a dunker. He’s a career 37.9% shooter from 3 point range and averages 13.7 points per game. Obviously time will tell what kind of player he’ll be once he returns, but by all accounts he’s rehabbing great and should be back to normal soon.

Lauri Markkanen, who I’ve named Lauri Bird, is the most interesting player of the bunch. There was similar reaction to the Bulls drafting Lauri with the 7th pick as there was when the Knicks chose Kristaps Porzingis in 2015: a sea of boos and “who the fuck is this ass hole?” like Samuel L. Jackson in McDowell’s. Whenever you don’t take the flashy, prom king, golden boy of the moment on everyone’s radar you’re going to be met with criticism. Understandably so, because for every Dirk there’s a Darko.

Lauri is special though. He shot the lights out at Arizona and was called the best shooting 7-footer college basketball had ever seen, averaging 15.6PPG and 7.2RPG all while rocking the number 10 like Mike Bibby. In his rookie season so far he’s opened a lot of eyes and gained respect from those who once doubted. Did I mention he’s ONLY 20? (Jay-Z voice at Hot97 with Young Chris). He’s averaging 14.6PPG and 7.4RPG on the pro level, and is showing tremendous potential to be a franchise player.

I had to talk a few fellow Bulls fans off the ledge when this trade went down, and now they’re all on the edge of their seats for this team. The future is bright and we have something that not even GarPax could ru...let me stop there before they ask me to hold their beer and show me.

Bottom line is, I knew we won this trade the night it happened and now the world sees it. Now if they could only stop disrupting this tank so we can draft even higher and secure the Bagley, I’d be even happier...but that’s another story.