Pointed media barbs, highly-publicized team meetings, and a surprising change in the lineup made no difference for the Chicago Bulls. Now increasingly desperate for a spark that could turn its topsy-turvy season right-side up, the black and red are apparently willing to trade a pair of franchise cohorts if it means an upgrade at a position of weakness.
On his new podcast, The Vertical, Yahoo Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski notes that the Bulls would deal Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson should a potential deal for an upper-echelon wing materialize. Thanks to Blog A Bull for the transcription:
Executives around the league, and people have told me, that the Bulls are very determined to add a talented wing player. Tony Snell has been given a lot of opportunities and he hasn’t established himself, and I’ve been told that the Bulls are open to…whether it’s Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson…maybe not both of them, but either of them if there’s a deal out there that they can bring in the best possible wing player available, they’re open to it. That’s a direction they’re going to go in.
Chicago is set for the foreseeable future on one wing with Jimmy Butler; it’s the spot opposite the 2015 All-Star where Fred Hoiberg has yet to find a solution.
That’s partially explained by the season-long absence of presumed starter Mike Dunleavy. The veteran sharpshooter has missed every game in 2015-16 after undergoing back surgery in September, and his replacements haven’t been able to replicate his two-way blend of understated effectiveness.
Tony Snell and Doug McDermott more closely resemble specialists at this point as opposed to well-rounded cogs, and Nikola Mirotic – who made his first start of the season at small forward on Friday – is clearly best suited as a power forward. It’s the latter reality, actually, which makes the Bulls’ supposed openness to trading Noah and/or Gibson especially understandable: Hoiberg has a surplus of big men who deserve playing time.
It’s somewhat vexing, though, why Chicago is comfortable putting both defensive-oriented big men on the block and not Pau Gasol. The Spaniard hasn’t been a seamless fit in Hoiberg’s much-discussed offense, and is creeping up on the twilight of his career. He’ll likely decline his player option for next season and join Noah in free agency this summer, too.
Obviously, nothing is imminent. But keep an eye on the Bulls as the trade deadline quickly approaches; all indications point to a move being made in the Windy City.