If you are a fan of the Chicago Bulls, you must admit that they are a tough team to watch these days. Injuries, including losing center Joakim Noah for the season and guard Jimmy Butler for 3-4 weeks with a knee injury (courtesy of CSN Chicago) have become part of the story, along with inconsistency. Over the last month, there is not much to like about the 27-25 Chicago Bulls team. It is time for some changes to be made. Is it time to trade All-Star center Pau Gasol.
The current record has the Bulls just barely in the playoff chase. As the NBA All-Star weekend reached its final day, the chatter is beginning to take place. With the playoff hopes needing a shot in the arm, the Bulls need to address the present and the future. If you ask anyone inside of the organization, they will be quick to tell you that once they get healthy, they will factor in an Eastern Conference race where only the Cleveland Cavaliers have established themselves as a title contender.
If you are a Chicago Bulls fan, you have heard this spill several times before. The words “defense” and “toughness” are also being thrown out a lot these days. When those words are used, it is almost ad nauseum.
Chicago Tribune reporter K.C. Johnson caught up with injured Bulls’ guard Jimmy Butler on the first day of NBA All-Star Weekend, and echoed the sentiments of “toughness” when it came to what is ailing the Chicago Bulls.
“We just lost our toughness. That’s all defense is. If you want to do it, you can do it. If you want to try to outscore people, you can do that also. Obviously we’re not very good at that because we lose a lot of games.
“I’m not concerned. I know we can win. I know the group of guys, their intentions. We just have to constantly be the tougher team.
“We rely too much on offense. You have to be tough to play offense; don’t get me wrong. But you have to be hella tough to play defense. You have to want to win your matchup, stop your guy from scoring. Whenever you see that and that look in guys’ eyes like, ‘I’m going to guard my man, I’m going to take this charge,’ that’s when you’ll see things start to turn around.”
Another thing that may turn things around for the Chicago Bulls would be a shocking trade to take place prior to the NBA trade deadline on Thursday afternoon. It has to be a deal that would help the Bulls in the long run as well as in the interim.
Of all of the players who could be used as trade bait, power forward Taj Gibson and the aforementioned Pau Gasol would bring back the best return depending on how aggressive the Chicago Bulls front office could be.
Aggression when it comes to acquiring players is hardly associated with the Bulls. Much to their detriment, Bulls’ general manager Gar Forman, and to a lesser extent vice president of operations John Paxson have never made an aggressive trade during their time together in the Chicago Bulls’ hierarchy. They have made a couple of trades, though they were cost-cutting moves that have benefited other teams. Most of their tenure has been about staying the course with a team which they have crafted to compliment former NBA MVP Derrick Rose. To their credit, the Bulls are a perennial playoff team, though they have only made it past the second round once with the Rose-led roster.
It is clear to everyone except for the Chicago Bulls that without a creative move, the trend of not making it to the Eastern Conference finals will continue. There is talk that the Bulls will be broken up during the offseason if they do not compete in the NBA semifinal round. At 27-25, and only being separated from the ninth place team by a game and a half, the fear of not making the playoffs is real. Because that fear exists, the Bulls should look to trade Pau Gasol. If the Chicago Bulls want to do something bold, they should be seeking a trade with the Miami Heat for the talented, but much-maligned center Hassan Whiteside.
Recently, it was reported by the Inquisitr that the Bulls and Memphis Grizzlies were a rumored match when it comes to a possible destination for Pau Gasol. If a trade between the Bulls and Grizzlies were to take place, the Bulls would likely get very little in return. Conversely, kicking the tires on a trade with the Miami Heat makes sense.
A trade that would center around Pau Gasol and Hassan Whiteside would have to include a bad contract going back to the Bulls in order to be consummated. Perhaps the contract of Chris Anderson, a player who would immediately be waived could be used to make it work. Such a deal would help both teams, and the players potentially on the move.
The Heat would get a veteran frontcourt player with championship experience in Gasol. Pau Gasol would fit in well with the pace that the Miami Heat plays and could create a legitimate one-two punch with Chris Bosh in the paint. The addition of Gasol makes the Heat a threat to challenge the Cavaliers for the East.
Moving Whiteside is something they must ponder because they cannot re-sign him once his free-agency takes place.
Pau Gasol, who wants another championship on his basketball resume, would be helped with the change of scenery and by the improved chances of getting to the NBA Finals.
Hassan Whiteside needs a change of scenery just as bad as Gasol. His youth does not mesh well with the veteran-laden Heat team.
The Chicago Bulls would get a young player with a bit of an attitude, or an edge, if you will, in Hassan Whiteside. He is a rim protector who would join the Bulls and instantly shore up their biggest weakness. Keep in mind that Jimmy Butler believes that defense is the key — Hassan Whiteside is a defensive player. His addition would help the Bulls remain in the playoff hunt, while giving them an early look at a player who could help them going forward.
NBA teams have to get back to business with the All-Star weekend coming to an end. The Chicago Bulls need to make a move. Not just a cost-efficient move, but an aggressive deal must take place. A potential trade partner that makes sense are the Miami Heat. A swap of Pau Gasol for Hassan Whiteside would be great for business.
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