The Chicago Bulls trade engine appears to be done as far as their major moves of the NBA offseason are concerned. They secured Coby White 7th overall in the draft. Then they added some nice veteran depth with Thaddeus Young and Tomas Satoransky for their bench. Their lineup appears young and deep with plenty of room to grow. Most would think the team is content to see what they have for the upcoming season.
However, there is one lingering possibility out there. His name is Russell Westbrook. It appears the All-Star point guard and the Oklahoma City Thunder are finally headed for a divorce. The team is in the midst of a serious salary cap crunch and after trading Paul George to the Clippers, it’s obvious they are moving towards a rebuild. That means acquiring as many future assets as possible. Westbrook, at 30-years old, doesn’t fit into that plan.
Adrian Wojnarowski broke it down.
“Oklahoma City All-Star guard Russell Westbrook and his agent, Thad Foucher, are engaged with Thunder general manager Sam Presti about the next steps of Westbrook’s career, including the possibility of a trade before the start of next season, league sources told ESPN.
The two sides have 11 years of history together, and both understand that the time has likely come to explore trade possibilities for Westbrook, league sources said.”
A Chicago Bulls trade for Westbrook is possible, but not likely
A deal for Westbrook would be fairly straightforward for the Bulls. Though he isn’t “young” anymore, he’s still a top player. He represents that superstar level of talent the team just doesn’t have. Adding him to the mix with that young core of Zach Lavine, Lauri Markkanen, Wendell Carter Jr., and now White could turn them into a serious threat in the weaker East.
So how would they pull it off? The simplest idea is putting a package together that keeps the incoming $38 million salary cap hit under control. In exchange for Westbrook, the Bulls could send over Otto Porter Jr. ($27.2 million) and Kris Dunn ($5.3 million) along with their 1st round picks in 2020 and 2022. Oklahoma City finds somebody to fill the void left by George at small forward in Porter and gets some depth at point guard in Dunn.
They also gain an extra $6 million in cap space.
Porter’s and Dunn’s contracts each have two years left on them. So they have a less long-term impact than Westbrook’s four years. It isn’t a bad deal though the odds of either side agreeing to it are remote.
OKC likely could get bigger offers from teams with more assets to spare. Teams like Atlanta, New York, New Orleans, and Philadelphia are all possibilities with multiple 1st round picks at their disposal. There’s also the fact this is the sort of move the Bulls have never done during the Gar Forman and John Paxson era. The money investment alone would scare them off. Nevermind having to give up the picks.
There is no question such a trade would make the Bulls a better basketball team. One that could take on teams like Milwaukee and Boston if their young roster ascends as hoped. Westbrook, with his 22 points/10 assists/11 rebounds stat line, would give them that extra juice they don’t have. Sadly, as is so often the case, too many obstacles are in the way.