It’s quite clear this season is not going as planned for the Chicago Bulls. The Joakim Noah injury, Derrick Rose struggling and overall an inconsistency on both ends of the floor. Pau Gasol, who might bolt for nothing at the end of this season, is probably the only player worth trading at the moment.
The Bulls thought about moving Noah, who has turned into an offensive liability, not to mention unhappy about getting benched, but his season ending shoulder injury scrapped that idea, which means he becomes a free agent at the end of the season, and might have already played his final game for the Bulls. Gasol has a player option for the 2016-2017 season, but with it being only $7.7 million and him still producing at relatively high levels (16.3 points, 10.8 rebounds per game), it’s safe to assume he believes he can get a raise in accordance with the cap being significantly raised.
But if Gasol is so productive, why move him? Well, for a team trying to move towards faster basketball with more spreading of the floor and in short, more like what Fred Hoiberg had with Iowa State (if it’s even comparable, being college basketball), Gasol, who also is a problem defensively, doesn’t exactly fit the bill of necessities, becoming expendable, not to mention someone who can get the Bulls something in return from teams who need some big man assistance (Charlotte Hornets maybe?).
Another name that might come up in trade talks will be Nikola Mirotic, who is having a disappointing second season in the NBA, especially when it comes to his shooting accuracy. However, the Bulls probably believe there’s something to be made of his presence, while Gasol will turn 36 this summer, and his days as an All-Star caliber big man (in the East at least) are numbered. The question is, what can they get for him?
Another interesting question regarding the Bulls is if they do trade Gasol, is it for draft picks, for young players, garbage contracts or someone who can help right now? It’s hard to believe they’re not going to make the playoffs, but with this looking like another season in which it’ll be too difficult for them to pass a certain threshold, the word tanking might come up here and there although once again, the Bulls have too many good players to let the entire ship sink just because they’re struggling right now.
The Bulls are 24-17 this season, good for 4th in the East, 5.5 games behind the Cleveland Cavaliers and 2.5 games behind number 2, the Toronto Raptors. They’ve gone 5-5 in their last 10 games, with an average points differential of only +0.6, the second lowest among the top 8 teams in the East.