Chicago Bulls trade rumors may have just gone silent until the NBA offseason. Although there is still chatter on social media about possibly dealing big man Taj Gibson before the February 23 NBA trade deadline, recent success on the court may have convinced the front office to stay the course. Could the Bulls now be serious contenders in the 2017 NBA Playoffs?
In the latest NBA standings, the Chicago Bulls reside as the No. 7 seed in the Eastern Conference. This is an important fact for two reasons. The first is that the Bulls would be able to avoid the Cleveland Cavaliers in the first-round of the postseason. In fact, the Bulls wouldn't have to worry about the Cavs until the Eastern Conference Finals (if at all). The second important fact is that the Bulls play against the Boston Celtics on Thursday night (February 16).
In the final game before the All-Star break, the Bulls will take the court at home against the No. 2 seeded team in the East. If the regular season ended today, that would be one of the first-round playoff matchups in the East. If the front office in Chicago was looking for a test to determine whether the team should start rebuilding before the NBA trade deadline, it could not come at a better time for the franchise. TNT will provide live coverage with an 8 p.m. ET tipoff at home.
A report by CSN Chicago on Wednesday (February 15) discussed how hard Taj Gibson has been playing lately, despite all the NBA trade rumors swirling around. Gibson is in the final year of his current contract, and his name had been linked to negotiations with the Toronto Raptors. One trade that had already been discussed was sending Gibson to Toronto for Terrence Ross and a first-round draft pick. The deal didn't happen, with Toronto going to the Orlando Magic for Serge Ibaka instead. Still, it showed how close Gibson was to switching teams.
"Of course it's gonna get hotter. No matter what happens, you're still in the NBA. You're still getting paid a lot of money to play basketball. People don't understand that. They think it's bad half the time. No it's not. It's the same paycheck, just on a different team."
Taj Gibson isn't the only player who has surfaced in Chicago Bulls trade rumors, as Jimmy Butler, Dwyane Wade, and Rajon Rondo have all been mentioned as well. Each player comes with differing values on the trade market, with Butler having the most value due to his age, All-Star status, and a long-term team-friendly contract. Rondo has lost value over the past few seasons and Wade may become a free agent again in the upcoming NBA offseason.
So what will the Bulls front office do in the days before the NBA trade deadline? The exact answer to that question may come down to how the team looks against the Boston Celtics on Thursday night. If the Bulls come out strong and make it an extremely competitive game, then it could convince the people in power that the team has enough talent to make a run in the 2017 NBA Playoffs. If the team loses in an ugly effort, though, it's certainly possible that the button gets pushed and an immediate "fire sale" begins.
At 27-29 on the season, the Bulls certainly aren't where the NBA analysts or fans expected the team to be by the All-Star break. This was supposed to be a roster that would be competing for (at worst) the No. 4 playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. The front office spent a lot of money and signed Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo as free agents, giving Jimmy Butler good veteran teammates to compete with. It hasn't gone according to plan, though, leading to many Chicago Bulls trade rumors and the potential of the team finally going into a full rebuild.
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