Two teams looking for a trade as we approach the deadline are the Chicago Bulls and Oklahoma City Thunder, each for their own reasons. The problem for both teams? They don’t have enough to give in order to get what they want.
The Thunder are out there looking for a wing player, despite having Andre Roberson, Dion Waiters, Kyle Singler and Anthony Morrow. Billy Donovan has been switching the rotation in that slot all season long, and Zach Lowe is suggesting Courtney Lee from the Memphis Grizzlies and P.J. Tucker from the Phoenix Suns. While Tucker will add some fantastic defense and Lee is a very good 3 & D type player everyone wants, it’s hard to see who the Thunder have in order to make that trade.
Maybe D.J. Augustin, maybe Mitch McGary or Roberson himself. The Thunder don’t seem to have the pieces to make the trade, as they’re looking to add to their wing rotation and not exchange for it, unless they’re getting rid of Singler or Roberson. Waiters has proven to be a little more useful when starting next to Westbrook in the backcourt, although he’s still not the kind of player the team feels completely confident in and trusts.
The Bulls are a different matter. While the Thunder are looking to win a championship and sneak behind the San Antonio Spurs and Golden State Warriors, the Bulls lost nine of their last 13, dropping them to fifth in the East when they were already on their way to being second. Their offense looks confused and disconnected, with Jimmy Butler looking unhappy about the lack of effort, Fred Hoiberg seems like someone who right now can’t generate any kind of communication between his players and the famous toughness seems gone, or rarely making an appearance.
The Bulls were counting on Joakim Noah to be the guy they ship out in order to improve the team in a difficult situation in the East, but he’s out for the season, and his expiring deal just isn’t enough to bring back someone who can make a difference. Who else can the Bulls trade? Pau Gasol? That would be pretty much giving up on this season, which might be the wiser thing to do considering the free fall they’re in. Nikola Mirotic is out for now after he had a hematoma removed, and the team is playing without too many players. Hoiberg has been looking for consistency at small forward all season long, and secretly, the Bulls might be hoping that Rose somehow gets back to himself and makes up for their other issues, but time and time again it’s proven it isn’t going to happen.
Right now there’s nothing big on the horizon in terms of some mega trade involving a star and a number of players or multiple teams. But as we get closer to the deadline, teams will get more creative, especially with pressure on them to succeed right now. It’s clear what the Thunder want from this season. The Bulls? I’m not sure they’ve given up on contending, or maybe it’s just admitting that this season is a lost one seems so difficult to do.