By Joshua M Hicks (@jhicks042)
The Chicago Bulls have had a roller coaster first half of the 2018-19 season, but things have gotten sort of quiet as of late.
Call it a calm before the storm because the Bulls organization finally answered Wednesday how serious it is about readjusting its roster in time for the NBA’s trade deadline.
You can forget about the series of injuries in the first couple months, the firing of Fred Hoiberg and the ongoing drama involving misfired free agent Jabari Parker, what came about Wednesday — the dealing of Parker, Bobby Portis and a 2023 second-round pick to the Washington Wizards for Otto Porter Jr. less than 24 hours before the trade deadline — has surpassed all that as likely the most dramatic moment the Bulls have had since opening night.
At once, the team officially disposed of a hometown hero who was looking for a way out and a devoted role player who hoped to be a Bull for life while taking on the team’s newest most expensive contract and outlining a lot of a new plan for the near future as that contract could likely put a halt on any plans to land a big free agent in 2019 or 2020.
This trade shows the true direction the Bulls are taking now, and quite frankly, it does not guarantee long-term success.
With Wizards’ All-Star John Wall now expected out until the 2020-21 season due to a ruptured Achilles, DC’s team realized they had to change course and start a long-term rebuilding process.
By trading Porter, the team does not only get one of its most expensive contracts, Porter’s’ 4-year, $106 million deal, off their books, but they also allow themselves a little flexibility after this season with the expiring contracts of Portis and Parker at their disposal. Plus there is the future-forward thinking of picking up a 2023 second-round pick.
The Wizards may want to evaluate Portis as a long-term solution to their big man depth chart — not long after reports of this trade came it was also reported that fellow forward Markieff Morris was sent to New Orleans — and he should have the time to showcase himself right away.
For the Bulls, trading for Porter, who at 25 with six years in the league qualifies squarely as a veteran on that roster, shows that they expect to build again mostly with roster pieces already under contract.
Porter becomes the highest paid player on the team immediately at $26 million for this season with $27.3 million and $28.5 million due across the next two seasons. This only projects the Bulls with roughly $21 million to work with this summer, including their upcoming first round draft pick.
Porter can be seen as a valuable asset, coming into this season scoring averaging 13 points and 5 rebounds a game for his career with 36 percent shooting from the 3-point line and a reputation as one of the better 3-and-D players in the Eastern Conference.
However, the trade does not improve the team drastically, especially since the Bulls are not in a position to make the playoffs currently. Not to mention it also creates a huge dent in their cap space, for a losing team compounds the issue of giving away expiring contracts, which always make for good trade bait. We also cannot overlook the fact that the Bulls also willingly gave away a 2023 second-round draft pick when it was most likely not necessary.
Historically, we all know that the Bulls have struggled to make themselves an attractive location to lure max-level free agents long-term and a big part of that is due to the decisions of the front office, one that is not getting much benefit of the doubt in reaction to this latest move.
This trade adds fuel to the fire formed by numerous questionable decisions the GarPax era has made over time. Looking ahead, we must pay attention to the Bulls’ plan to draft good quality players and develop them into potential top-tier talent. Hopefully it works, because while the Bulls received a quality talented player, they may have peaked in transactional thrills for the time being.
Suns Must Set Crawford Free To Playoff Contender
In many ways the Bulls of the Western Conference, the Phoenix Suns are currently sitting at the bottom of the West with an 11-40 record.
In a Suns roster mostly highlighted by still-to-be-proven young talent the team also conspicuously features sharpshooting vet Jamal Crawford, who is currently averaging 6 points and 3 assists a game on less than 20 minutes of play and still has a lot in the tank.
With that being said, I have a message for Suns management; do not waste Crawford’s talent! Give him the “Trevor Ariza treatment” and either trade or buyout his contract so he can play for a playoff contender.
The Phoenix Suns Owe Veteran Jamal Crawford a Trade (FanSided)
Crawford went through almost the entire summer of 2018 without being picked up until the Suns came calling and put him on their roster at the veteran minimum (1-year/$2.4 mill.) to play the role of mentor, teaching young upcoming stars like Devin Booker and DeAndre Ayton leadership and what it means to be a star on and off the court.
Crawford indeed is a great role model for players to learn from on a daily basis, however, he has a lot of talent left to display and he will not have much of a chance to display it if the focus is to improve the young talent in Phoenix. It is safe to say that the team is not making the playoffs during these next 31 games, so why not provide the chance for Crawford to win a deserving championship?
One team that could still utilize the 18-year veteran’s services is the Philadelphia 76ers. This past summer, it was reported that the Sixers were intrigued with the idea of bring Crawford to the City of Brotherly Love, but they would have to trade the contract of Jerryd Bayless to clear the cap space, which became an unsuccessful proposition. With that contract being part of the Jimmy Butler trade, the opportunity to join the Sixers remains prevalent.
NBA insider Chris Sheridan told Brandon “Scoop B” Robinson of Scoop B Radio the team was reportedly giving a lot of consideration with the idea of possibly bringing soon-to-be free agent Carmelo Anthony to the team due to their lack of depth at the power forward position.
Of course eventually the Sixers shocked the league in making a deal with the Clippers to acquire Tobias Harris in order to plug in that “4” position and create a Big 4 made to compete for the Eastern Conference immediately.
But while Philly’s starters may be unrivaled except for the five Golden State trots out, they still lack production off the bench, especially from the guard position. Besides JJ Redick and Jimmy Butler, the Sixers do no have a true scorer that can create his own shot. As a matter of fact, besides the starters, the team does not have anyone that can give you 10 points on a consistent basis off the bench. That was Crawford’s total average off the bench last season with the Minnesota Timberwolves.
With the uncertainty of Markelle Fultz’s future with the team regarding the rest of the season, bringing Crawford easily strengthens the team’s bench play. As a combination guard, Crawford provides you the option of playing the shooting guard role behind the point guard play of Ben Simmons or the option of playing point guard alongside former teammate Jimmy Butler.
In either scenario, Crawford can give you as much as 10-15 points a game, making him a beneficial asset come playoff time and a solution to a particular problem that has occurred for Philadelphia all season long.
The NBA buyout market ends March 1.
Joshua M. Hicks is the lead columnist of WARR