Will Bulls go all-in for Jerami Grant, trade Patrick Williams?

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  • Chicago Bulls
    Chicago Bulls
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  • Patrick Williams
    Patrick Williams
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  • Jerami Grant
    Jerami Grant
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Mailbag: Will Bulls go all-in for Jerami Grant? originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

The Chicago Bulls reach the halfway point of the season this week. They’re on pace to win more than 50 games. That doesn’t stop the questions.

How much does AKME value Patrick Williams?  Is he untouchable?  Would they sacrifice his potential upside for an opportunity to win a championship? I assume pending on the deal. — Paul C.

In order of your rapid-fire questions: We’re about to find out. I do not like the phrase “untouchable” in trade talks. They would sacrifice his potential upside for an opportunity to improve the franchise.

Fleshing those out: Management values Patrick Williams. He represents this regime’s first personnel move. And I know there are question marks about his motor and ceiling, but it’s not like Williams had a poor rookie season. He started 71 of 72 games, handled plenty of defensive workload without complaint, clearly has the physical tools to be a two-way contributor and landed on second-team All-Rookie.

But it’s management’s job to always be looking for ways to improve the roster. Most management teams would sacrifice a lot more than a player’s upside for a chance to win a championship. (That was supposed to be a light-hearted line.) So, no, Williams isn’t untouchable. But it would have to take a deal that not only makes the Bulls better this season, but also fits with the long-term vision, for him to be moved.

What’s up, K.C.? I’ve been hearing Patrick Williams/Jerami Grant trade rumors recently. It seems way too premature to hit the “ALL IN” button. No one knows what this team is even capable of just yet. In my opinion, the Grant move doesn’t put us ahead of Brooklyn, Phoenix, Milwaukee or Golden State. I know he’s a borderline All-Star. But those numbers came courtesy of being the No. 1 option on a team with the second-worst record in the entire NBA last year. We already saw what Grant’s role is on a good team in Denver two seasons ago. It’s a role that I’m confident a healthy Williams — who is on a significantly cheaper deal and seven years younger with a potentially higher ceiling — is more than capable of filling. So my question is: If you had to pick a number between 1-10, what’s the probability of this rumor materializing into an actual trade? Sorry for being so long winded lol. — Shaq W.

No LOL needed. I ran the whole question because it’s well-stated and certainly one of the many arguments that management will weigh. Grant is available. For now, I’d go with a 3. But check back closer to the deadline. That can change.

What are your thoughts on Jerami Grant as a player and what could he provide as a member of the Bulls? — Brendan, via Twitter

He’s a very nice player. He’s long, athletic and you can switch him because he can guard multiple positions. In that sense, he’d be a nice fit defensively in the Bulls’ scheme. He’s also had experience playing both lead and complementary roles offensively.

And not for nothing, he’s got a very good locker room reputation, along with ties to Billy Donovan from Oklahoma City and Artūras Karnišovas from Denver. He even overlapped with Marc Eversley for six months in Philadelphia. There’s a lot to like.

Are there any candidates worth pursuing that won’t cost us Pat Williams? What about a Thad Young reunion? — Jaime M.

Robert Covington do anything for you? Marvin Bagley? Kyle Anderson? Robin Lopez? It’s extremely unlikely Young returns. He’d have to be traded to another team and then waived. I think Lopez is a good fit.

What am I missing? Kyrie Irving cannot set foot inside the United Center now that vaccines are mandated by the City of Chicago. — Daniel L.

From the city of Chicago: "Nonresident professional athletes and accompanying nonresidents who enter a covered location as part of their regular employment for purposes of the professional athlete/sports team competition" are exempt.

You’ll see him.

Considering the Bulls are No. 1 in 3-point percentage as a team, am I overreacting in thinking the Bulls are still in need of a 3-point specialist coming off the bench?  That December Miami game really got me worried if the Bulls face the Heat in the playoffs. Should we as fans put our hopes that Coby White, Ayo Dosunmu and Alex Caruso can hold it down for us from long distance? — Emilio H.

Matt Thomas isn’t doing it for you? (And if you’re a fan, you should be worried about the Heat regardless.) Just think if management trades Coby White. Gulp.

The Bulls aren’t a volume 3-point shooting team. In some ways, their offensive style could fit well in the playoffs given its premium on knocking down midrange shots and getting to the line. Defensively could be another story as, traditionally, size matters. The Bulls are big in the backcourt, smallish in the frontcourt.

But yeah, you can never have enough shooting.

I was surprised by the Bulls' decision to guarantee Matt Thomas' contract for the rest of the season.  The Bulls seem well stocked with guards and I thought they'd want to have the flexibility of a freed-up roster slot for either a trade or buyout candidate.  They could save a little money too.  Am I thinking too much like the old regime? — Eric S.

Maybe I covered that regime too long, but I was shocked as well. So you’re not alone.

Nothing against Thomas, who not only makes defenses respect his shot whenever he’s called upon, but, by all accounts, is also a good practice player and indefatigable. But I thought he’d be waived for multiple reasons, including all of the ones you detailed. An extra roster spot makes an uneven trade easier. It also allows for a buyout candidate to be signed without eating money. And the Bulls aren’t exactly miles clear of the luxury tax. So every little bit of wiggle room could help.

Breaking: It’s a new era.

I recognize that it was more obvious in the most recent game against the Mavs, and Luka is Luka. But it seems like teams continue to attack Nikola Vučević on the pick-and-roll, but Billy Donovan keeps him in there. Getting Caruso and Green back will help, but do you think there’s situations where they need to run a small-ball lineup to help with the pick-and-roll defense? — Matt L.

I wouldn’t blame Vučević, who in my opinion is having a very solid season defensively. I’d blame the loss of stellar perimeter defenders like Lonzo Ball for a stretch and then Alex Caruso in that particular game. Javonte Green’s absence is significant too.

The Bulls’ defensive scheme, to me, maximizes Vučević’s strengths, which are active hands and decent lateral movement. He’s also a very good defensive rebounder. It’s why he’s in drop coverage. He’s not as good at defending the pick-and-roll and in space, nor is he an elite rim protector. Caruso and Ball wreak so much havoc at the point of the screen, and then with athletic wings rotating, they mask Vučević’s deficiencies.

Ayo Dosunmu has massively improved as the season has gone, especially on defense. His spark off the bench lately to lock up the opposition guards has been impressive to watch. How much of an influence has Alex Caruso been on that? — Matt H.

I mean, players talk about how Caruso could be a coach one day if he wants because of his basketball IQ and communication. So it hasn’t hurt, for sure. But Dosunmu to me is one of those players who will hit whatever his ceiling is because of his work ethic and toughness. He’s wired the right way.

What are your thoughts on if the Bulls signed Kenneth Faried to a 10-day contract? Do you think he could help this team even if it's coming off the bench? — DA Raging Bull

This seems random. I assume you mean as another hardship exception because the Bulls have no roster spots available. He hasn’t played in the league since 2018-19. He is a strong rebounder for an undersized forward, but the Bulls had a guy like that in Alize Johnson and waived him. I don’t see it.

I have seen numerous times on Twitter where you list the few remaining Bulls that haven’t been in the health and safety protocols and Patrick Williams isn't listed there. I don't remember him getting COVID.  Has Patrick had COVID? As best I can tell, the only Bulls players left that haven’t had COVID/been in protocols are: Patrick Williams, Tyler Cook and Devon Dotson. I know Dotson was in protocols, but it was obvious he didn’t have COVID because of the turnaround. — Brett B.

But he was still in protocols. So it’s only Williams and Cook. It’s wild.

First time, long time. What was worse this week, the Bulls' defense or the CPS-CTU negotiations? I'll hang up and listen. — Nader I.

Do. Not. Get. Me. Started.

(but thanks for your stellar news coverage)

Until next time, folks.

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