Chicago Bulls Rumors: Will The Bulls Be Buyers Or Sellers At This Year’s Trade Deadline?

The Chicago Bulls have been plagued by inconsistencies all season long, yet their big win over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Saturday night shows that they are still a team to be considered when talking about the best teams in the Eastern Conference.

Chicago (25-18) currently has the seventh-best record in the NBA, which is also good enough for the third-best record in the Eastern Conference, but the Bulls are just 4-6 in their last 10 games. The Bulls have proven that they can beat the league’s elite teams, as they are 8-2 against the six teams with a better record than them – Chicago is 0-2 versus Golden State. However, they also have mystifying losses home losses to Brooklyn, Minnesota, and Phoenix. Overall, Chicago is 13-10 against teams with a winning record and 12-8 against teams with a losing record.

“It’s a mindset with our guys,” coach Fred Hoiberg to the Chicago Tribune.

So how good are the Bulls this year?

It is really hard to say, but they have the potential to be really good as they showed in their 96-83 victory over Cleveland a few days ago, although the Cavs did help out by making just 9-of-22 free throws. The Bulls held the Cavaliers to just 37.2 percent from the field (35-of-94) and 16.7 percent from beyond the arc (4-of-24).

Jimmy Butler is a star, and he is currently playing his best ball of the year, producing four of his five double-doubles in January. For the month of January, Butler is averaging 25.8 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 5.6 assists while shooting 46.4 percent from the floor and attempting 9.5 free throws per game (84.7 percent). He has scored in double figures 12 times and has tallied 20 points nine times, which include a 53-point performance against Philadelphia on January 14 and a 43-point effort against Toronto on January 3. The six-foot-seven shooting guard averages 22.5 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 4.2 assists this season.

Pau Gasol is 35-years-old and has seen his scoring production take a little hit, but he is still an excellent rebounder and passer. Gasol has posted 24 double-doubles this season and is averaging 16.5 points along with 10.8 rebounds as well as 3.1 assists this year. The Bulls have outscored their opponents by 2.2 points a game when Gasol is on the floor.

The Bulls are also very good on the defensive end and on the boards. Chicago leads the league in rebounding as well as defensive rebounding and is sixth in the Association in offensive rebounding. The Bulls are 15th in the league in scoring defense but eighth in defensive rating, and they lead the league in opponent field goal percentage and are fourth in opponent three-point percentage.

The Bulls have several problems that need to be addressed if they plan on making a long playoff run this season. These issues include Derrick Rose’s struggles since coming back from his injuries — which has limited him to 100 games over the past three years — injuries to several key players, and not getting enough production from their small forward position.

Rose has struggled on both ends of the floor this year and has dealt with lingering effects of his injuries. He has missed six games this year, including three in January with knee troubles, although he has picked up his offensive production recently. Rose is averaging 18.9 points while shooting 45.8 percent from the floor and 31.8 percent from beyond the arc in January. Rose has done a decent job at harassing shooters that he has guarded, however, opposing guards are getting into the lane too often, which has led to him having the worst defensive rating on the team, according to

Chicago has dealt with several injuries this season and recently lost Joakim Noah to a season-ending shoulder surgery. The Noah injury is particularly hurtful, as he was the Bulls best interior defender, a quality rebounder, and outstanding playmaker, but more importantly, it hurt their depth. Taj Gibson, who has carved out a niche as a sixth man off the bench, now has to start at power forward rather than being able to split time at both small forward and power forward. Veteran Kirk Hinrich has missed several games due to injuries while Mike Dunleavy (back) has yet to play this season. ESPN is reporting that Dunleavy is not expected to be cleared until February.

Also, Nikola Mirotic has struggled as the Bulls starting small forward. Mirotic hasn’t been terrible, but he has struggled with his shot this season – averaging 10.5 points while shooting 38.1 percent from the field. However, more than half of his shots are coming from beyond the arc, where he making 35.3 percent of those shots. Mirotic has been held to single figures 21 times and reached the 20-point mark just five times.

Doug McDermott and Tony Snell also have seen time at small forward. McDermott has shot a lot better his sophomore year but still struggles on the defensive end. In the meanwhile, Snell is the opposite of McDermott as he struggles offensively but is strong defensively.

There have been rumors that Chicago may start looking to the future and trade either Pau Gasol and/or Derrick Rose this year.

So will the Bulls be buyers or sellers at the trade deadline this year?

The answer will likely come after the Bulls finish their season long seven-game road trip that the team will begin after hosting the banged-up Miami Heat (23-21) on Monday. Chicago will start the road trip in Los Angles against the Lakers on January 28, which ends February 8 in Charlotte. The Bulls are 9-10 away from home this season.

Bradford Doolittle of ESPN is reporting that Gibson is the player most likely to be dealt if the Bulls make a deal. The reason being is rookie Bobby Portis has shown that he is possibly ready for a bigger role this season.

Gibson is a physical defender who can protect the rim and an excellent rebounder, particularly on the offensive end. He is not a huge offensive threat but has shown the ability to score when he takes quality shots. Gibson is more suited to come off the bench then start like he is currently doing with the Bulls.

Portis has played sparingly but has shown to be a very good defensive rebounder and defender. He plays with high energy and has the ability to score inside and out.

Doolittle also stated that Joe Johnson and Luol Deng could be trade targets for the Bulls.

[Photo by Carlos Osorio/AP]

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