Bulls Trade For Noah Vonleh

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The Chicago Bulls added a 22-year-old, former top 10 pick to the roster today, trading away the rights to Milocan Rakovich to Portland for Noah Vonleh.

Rakovic is 32 years old and has yet to see a game of NBA action since being drafted in 2007, so this trade was essentially just a salary dump by Portland.

So, the Bulls get a 22-year old big man for just $3.5M, and the cash Portland kicked in helps the Bulls reach the league’s salary floor. If nothing else, this makes up for the Bulls trading away a 22-year old big man for $3.5M during last year’s NBA draft.

Vonleh has been a disappointment after being selected 9th overall in the 2014 NBA draft. His size, strength and athleticism enticed teams when he came out of Indiana, but his skill level has not caught up with the physical tools.

Last season he posted career-high averages in minutes, points and rebounds with a 17.1-4.4-5.2 line. Those #’s have taken a slight dip this season.

At 6’9, Vonleh has played primarily at power forward, but his skill set has not been able to catch up with the sport as it shifts more and more towards a perimeter oriented game. He’s attempted just 85 3-pointers in his career and connected on just 29.4% of those.

His inability to thrive at power forward in today’s game is why, with Niko gone, I really like this move for the Bulls. Bobby Portis can shift over to power forward with the second unit, and coach Fred Hoiberg can throw Vonleh in at center where he can do what he does best: post up, screen and rebound. With two months left in the season, this also gives the Bulls a chance to see if Vonleh’s athleticism can allow him to be a respectable rim protector, as his height prevented his former teams from giving him that opportunity.

If Vonleh stinks these next two months, the Bulls can let him walk. If he impresses in a new role, the Bulls have more leverage than anyone to sign him this offseason, as he is a restricted free agent.

After whiffing on a backup center last season by signing Cristiano Felicio to a 4-year, $32M deal, this gives the Bulls another chance to get it right.

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Just another Chicago fan with deep Chicago roots. 2017 University of Iowa graduate back at home in the western suburbs. Covering the Bulls.