The NBA trade deadline is just ten days away. With each passing day, buyers and sellers will ramp up their negotiations across the league. Bulls fans might be freaking out about the possibility of sending Jimmy Butler to the Celtics, but the Tribune‘s K.C. Johnson recently told the guys on The 312 Podcast that has a less than 5% chance of happening. Sending impending free agent Taj Gibson away for either a younger player or draft pick is much more likely. And the most obvious suitors for Gibson’s services are hard at work.
Earlier today, Sean Deveney of Sporting News reported that the Toronto Raptors are in talks with the Bulls for a potential Gibson trade. They are also interested in Orlando’s Serge Ibaka and Denver’s Danilo Gallinari.
The Raptors sorely need a sturdy presence at power forward. Gallinari could provide another shooter and more of a stretch four option, whereas Gibson and Ibaka would be much-needed defensive help. Gibson, more so than Ibaka, can also offer traditional offensive contributions for a power forward: decent post moves and a reliable midrange jumper.
The question is whether or not the Raptors want to risk bringing any of these veterans on board for their playoff run. Toronto is trending the wrong way while teams like Boston and Washington are surging ahead. If the Raptors still think they have what it takes to get back to the conference finals, and potentially dethrone Cleveland, a half-season loan would be worth it. But trading for Gibson, Ibaka or Gallinari carries the risk of losing them this summer. Gibson and Ibaka will be unrestricted free agents. Gallinari has a player option entering the final year of his deal, and could choose to hit the free agent market as well.
Originally, the Raptors’ prime target was Atlanta’s star forward Paul Millsap, but the Hawks told everyone a few weeks ago that he’s now off the market. Gibson, Gallinari and Ibaka are the best of a fairly weak power forward market right now.
The Right Time
For the Bulls to make this deal, Gar Forman and John Paxson have to reach two conclusions: First, they must acknowledge that this team isn’t going anywhere in the playoffs, if they get there. If GarPax concede that point, then trading Gibson to put themselves in a better position for next season makes sense. If they still believe these Bulls are playoff contenders, they won’t trade Gibson because his valuable to this current squad is immeasurable.
Secondly, if they decide to let Gibson go, they must feel 100% confident that they’re getting back solid value from Toronto. The Raptors have interesting pieces: Norman Powell, Bruno Caboclo, Jakob Poeltl, Pascal Siakam and Fred VanVleet are all in their early twenties. There’s also Toronto’s first round pick and a 2017 first round pick they’re owed from the Clippers. What combination of those picks and players is Toronto willing to trade away for what could amount to just a few months of Gibson’s services?
It’s a tough call. Or perhaps calls is more appropriate. There will be plenty of said calls between the Bulls and Raptors as we get closer to that deadline. We’ll keep you posted.
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