Most would’ve thought that the Chicago Bulls were done making any big moves this offseason. They added Coby White and Daniel Gafford in the NBA draft. Then they secured Thaddeus Young and Tomas Satoransky in free agency. While none of those could be considered blockbuster moves, the belief is the team got considerably better from last season. True to form though, sports have a way of throwing unexpected curveballs.
The Oklahoma City Thunder have reached a point of no return. Their failure to reach the Finals last season put their money troubles front and center. Already they committed to a massive deal with the Los Angeles Clippers in exchange for star forward Paul George. That move made their intentions crystal clear. The organization is poised to start rebuilding, which means star point guard Russell Westbrook, who is 30-years old, is the next to go.
Already word has emerged that the two sides are in agreement on seeking out trade possibilities. This has led to rampant speculation about where he could land. Popular theories include Atlanta, New York, Houston, and Miami. Not a lot of people have mentioned the Bulls. If only because they’ve never been known for making such a move.
Brian Windhorst of NBA on ESPN believes though that they may, in fact, be the most ideal landing spot for him.
Chicago Bulls have the right mix to entice a Westbrook deal
There are many factors in play here. In order for the Bulls to pull off a trade, they need to have a trade package that would interest the Thunder and also find a way to absorb the massive $38.5 million cap hit he’d bring with him. Not to mention the question of whether the man would be interested in playing in Chicago.
Adrian Wojnarowski revealed that the Miami Heat have a lot of interest, but there’s a problem. Following the deal for Jimmy Butler, the team’s money situation is tight. They’d have to shed a ton of salary to get Westbrook. The only way this happens is they get the Thunder to take on some contracts on their payroll, which is unlikely, or they get a third team involved.
This is why Windhorst likes the Bulls more.
“Chicago makes a little bit more sense. They have some really good, young shooters. If you made Zach Lavine the centerpiece of a trade, potentially threw in a 1st round pick? Now you’d have to include other players to make the money work but you wouldn’t have the hard cap problem there.
Oklahoma City is interested in reducing its salary because they’re into the repeater tax and they would be interested in moving out of the luxury tax in the trade. It would be impossible to do it with the Heat unless there was a third team involved. The Bulls could accommodate them in that way.”
Trading Zach Lavine in the deal would shed $19.5 million off the cap, but it’s likely the Bulls would need another contract to go with it. Cristiano Felicio and his $8,156,500 make a lot of sense. This puts the number at $27,656,500. That makes it more tolerable to absorb Westbrook’s contract. Meanwhile, the Thunder are able to shed $10.84 million off their salary while gaining a young shooter and likely a 1st round pick in the process.
Then the Bulls would have a fascinating core centered around Westbrook, Lauri Markkannen, and Otto Porter Jr. That could make Chicago a serious dark horse in the Eastern Conference. Especially if White and Wendell Carter Jr. are able to develop their potential. Westbrook, an 8-time All-Star, averaged a triple-double last year (22.9 points, 10.7 assists, 11.1 rebounds).