On Friday, a report from The Athletic’s Sam Amick (via NBC Sports) suggested that Indiana Pacers forward/center Domantas Sabonis has been placed on the trading block, with the team supposedly entertaining offers from rival teams interested in the 23-year-old big man. While Amick noted that the Pacers’ asking price so far has been “too high,” that doesn’t seem to have diminished interest in the former Gonzaga University star in the days leading up to the 2019-20 NBA season.
As pointed out by Fansided blog Pippen Ain’t Easy, the Chicago Bulls could be among the organizations that could benefit from adding Sabonis to their roster, even with the established presence of Lauri Markkanen as the team’s starting power forward. The publication explained that any improvement to the rebuilding Bulls’ roster would be welcome at this point, with Sabonis particularly standing out as a potential Sixth Man of the Year candidate who could also start if given the chance.
In the first of three trades suggested by Pippen Ain’t Easy, the outlet suggested that Chicago could acquire Sabonis, veteran forward T.J. Warren, and seldom-used guard Aaron Holiday for a package that includes point guard Kris Dunn and backup wingmen Denzel Valentine and Chandler Hutchison. Warren was described as a player who could provide the Bulls with additional depth behind Otto Porter Jr. at small forward, while Dunn — the No. 5 overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft — was projected as someone who could “fill a very different role” from Holiday on the Pacers, given his forte as a tough defender at point guard.
The second hypothetical trade centered on finding a way to get rid of “overpaid” Bulls center Cristiano Felicio, but in order to make the deal attractive for Indiana, Chicago could offer second-year center Wendell Carter Jr. and Hutchison along with the Brazilian big man. This suggestion still involved moving Sabonis and Warren from the Pacers to the Bulls, albeit with backup forward T.J. Leaf replacing Holiday as the third Indiana player in the deal.
Domantas Sabonis may be on the trading block after contract extension talks with Pacers are far apart, per @sam_amick
He averaged 14 PTS, 9 REB & 3 AST last season pic.twitter.com/czfyKTeJ7I
— Bleacher Report NBA (@BR_NBA) October 18, 2019
“The Bulls get to renew the youth in their frontcourt and also get rid of two of the players that would be deeper down the bench for head coach Jim Boylen this season,” Pippen Ain’t Easy explained, adding that the suggested deal could give Chicago more salary-cap space for additional roster moves.
“It also gives the potential to work two good young big men like Sabonis and [Markkanen] together this season.”
The third trade suggestion involved many of the aforementioned players but added the New York Knicks as a third team, thus allowing the Bulls to acquire both Sabonis and second-year Knicks forward Kevin Knox, with Dunn moving to the Knicks and Valentine and Hutchison joining the Pacers with a 2020 lottery-protected first-round draft pick.
Despite his reserve role, Sabonis averaged 14.1 points, 9.3 rebounds, and 2.9 assists for the Pacers as one of their top contributors last season. However, his recent comments, per a separate NBC Sports article, suggest that he was deeply disappointed to learn that he is reportedly being shopped around, as he said that he “[knows] exactly how the Pacers feel about me now.”