No team in the Eastern Conference has been hotter than the Bulls lately. Coming off six straight wins, Chicago is firing on all cylinders — and that’s with two potential starters (Mike Dunleavy and Joakim Noah) sidelined.
Their success has stemmed from MVP-like play out of Jimmy Butler, the timeless brilliance of Pau Gasol and the reemergence of Derrick Rose. Nonetheless, the Bulls have still been rumored to have interest in moving one of their bigs in order to find more time for their rookie standout, Bobby Portis.
As impressive as the Bulls have been recently, they still aren’t a realistic threat to catch Cleveland in the standings as their roster is currently constructed (and wouldn’t stand a chance in a playoff series).
So, let’s turn the tables. What if Chicago decided to take its promising young talent (Portis) and use him as a chip in an attempt to contend now?
WHY IT WORKS FOR SACRAMENTO
The Kings tried to make it work, but the way their roster is slapped together isn’t going to result in many wins. Rajon Rondo will be gone after this season. DeMarcus Cousins is going to be traded at some point. So why not try and trade Gay now?
Package Gay with a couple underachieving prospects who could use a change of scenery, and acquire three players that can help them build a good foundation while setting up a winning culture for the future. It’s not a flashy trade for Sacramento, but Gibson and Portis are solid building pieces, especially with Cousins on the move eventually. For the Kings, consider this a small step on a long path in the right direction.
WHY IT WORKS FOR CHICAGO
It’s not the way the Bulls anticipated their roster looking, but it’s a power move they’d have to consider. Chicago already has depth, so players like Acy and McLemore wouldn’t be thrusted into crucial bench roles (although they’d likely be in the rotation).
The key to the trade is the elite starting-five the Bulls would have the opportunity to unite. With Rose/Butler/Gay/Gasol/Noah getting the lion’s share of the minutes (particularly to start and finish games together), Chicago would be a very dangerous team in the playoffs. They still probably aren’t as good as Cleveland, but with so many scoring options and a lot of veterans willing to sacrifice, this could be the Bulls best shot at making noise in the east.