There are rumors that the Chicago Bulls are one of the teams trying to “tank” this season in hopes of landing a higher pick in the upcoming NBA Draft in June. While Bulls officials are not using the exact word per se, some of the comments made by the team’s top executives certainly imply the idea.
In an interview with Sam Smith of Bulls.com (h/t SB Nation’s Mavs Moneyball), Bulls VP for basketball operations John Paxson said that the team’s coaching staff will be “looking at blocks of games” where they can utilize more some of their lesser-used players. Paxson explained that their goal is to “evaluate what we have on this roster,” evidently at the expense of having a greater chance of losing.
With the plan in place, Chicago has continued to slide down the Eastern Conference standings as they dropped their fourth straight game to the Brooklyn Nets, 104-87, on Monday night. Kris Dunn and Lauri Markkanen led the team with 23 and 19 points respectively and have combined for nine rebounds and four assists. The young pair has sustained their remarkable play throughout the season despite the Bulls losing 12 of their last 14 games.
With that, speculations that the Bulls are “tanking” have continued to grow while there are analysts who believe that the team is also trying to pad up the trade value of some of their young players in order to land a big fish this coming offseason.
Recently, there are rumors that Chicago could be preparing to pursue New Orleans Pelicans star Anthony Davis this summer. According to Sporting News’ Sean Deveney, the Bulls are one of four teams who might go after the five-time NBA All-Star via a trade at the end of the season.
Davis is rumored to be contemplating about his future with the Pelicans as he had only appeared once in the postseason in his so far five-and-a-half-year career. In a recent interview with ESPN’s Rachel Nichols, Davis admitted that he was thinking about Kevin Garnett’s comments on how the former Boston Celtic wishes to have asked for a trade out of Minnesota sooner in his career.
Davis said that he had been “wondering” if he was “following the same path,” but insisted that he remains loyal to the Pelicans at the moment. The two-time NBA blocks leader is still under contract in New Orleans for the next three seasons after signing a huge five-year, $127 million deal in the summer of 2016.
With those comments being widely reported, rumors have emerged that Davis may soon request a trade out of New Orleans and the Pelicans might just oblige.
Blasting News suggested that a trade package composed of Dunn and Markkanen or any other combination of their young players, plus two future first-round draft picks, could be enough for the Bulls to reach an agreement with the Pelicans to give up Davis.
The Bulls are expected to have a high chance of ending up with a lottery pick this June with the way things are going in Chicago, so the addition of the first-rounders would be valuable for the Pelicans if they decide to start a full-scale rebuild in the summer.