Bulls sit out trade deadline for third straight season

Bulls sit out trade deadline for third straight season originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

Presented by Nationwide Insurance Agent Jeff Vukovich

MEMPHIS, Tenn. --- For the third straight season, the Chicago Bulls sat out the NBA trade deadline.

The Bulls spent months trying to find a workable deal for Zach LaVine, who had conveyed his openness to being moved for the first time in his Chicago tenure after the franchise stumbled to a 5-14 start. But with LaVine now headed to season-ending foot surgery, management weighed other options.

League sources said the Bulls fielded calls on Alex Caruso and Andre Drummond at least, with some cursory conversations centered on DeMar DeRozan. But no trade materialized, even as multiple teams throughout the league---and in the Eastern Conference in particular---made moves.

Executive vice president Artūras Karnišovas said the Bulls were active despite not making any moves.

"We didn’t see anything that was going to make us better. We would take a step back, which we don’t want. We want to stay competitive," he said. "We have an obligation to this organization and this fan base and this city to stay competitive and compete for the playoffs. That’s what we’re doing."

In exploratory trade talks with the Golden State Warriors centered on Caruso, league sources said the Bulls inquired about Jonathan Kuminga's availability. That was rebuffed, and the Bulls made clear in talks with all teams that they didn't want to trade Caruso, especially for a package on perhaps other young pieces like Moses Moody, so they'd need to be floored by an offer to do so.

Drummond, who has played well all season, drew interest. But the Philadelphia 76ers spent second-round draft capital in their acquisition of Buddy Hield. And the Dallas Mavericks acquired former Bulls big man Daniel Gafford from Washington.

In talks with their teams, the Bulls emphasized the desire to remain competitive, two rival executives told NBC Sports Chicago. Ownership gave the green light to Karnišovas to address the roster as he saw fit, a source said.

There was internal discussion about selling off pieces and beginning to reshape the next roster iteration now, a source said. Instead, management pushed those decisions to the offseason, when LaVine will be shopped again and the Bulls face contract decisions on DeRozan and Patrick Williams.

The Bulls have an open roster spot and sit roughly $1.7 million under the luxury tax threshold, so they are in position to add a player via the buyout market should they wish. Last season, they added Patrick Beverley, who was traded back to the Central Division and the Milwaukee Bucks on Thursday.

The Pistons are expected to waive Joe Harris, who could be a target after the Bulls tried to acquire Bojan Bogdanović from Detroit, sources said.

After engineering a dizzying series of moves in his first five seasons on the job, Karnišovas has largely stood pat since August 2021, banking on continuity to keep the Bulls relevant and in the Eastern Conference playoff race. The Bulls currently sit ninth in the East after finishing 10th season. They have won one playoff game since Karnišovas inherited a rebuild and cashed out of it, making his first big splash with the Nikola Vucevic deal in March 2021.

Only LaVine and Coby White remain from the roster that Karnišovas inherited. But after making five trades in five months from March to August 2021, Karnišovas has made one deal since. He acquired the draft rights to Julian Phillips on draft night last year.

Karnišovas only has traded two smaller-role players---Garrett Temple and Al-Farouq Aminu---that he acquired first.

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