Hear me out, I’m on to something…
Written by Bryce Fields
The state of each the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers are no secret. Chicago is an average team stuck between building around All-NBA forward Jimmy Butler, while the Lakers house an abundance of young talent, lead by dynamic point guard D’Angelo Russell. Even though the Bulls (barely) made the playoffs last season and LA finished a mere 26-56, it seems that each team is headed in the opposite direction.
The Bulls are in need of racking up young players and draft picks so that they can begin to rebuild. As of now, the Bulls best players besides Butler are Rajon Rondo and Dwayne Wade, both on the backsides of their careers and will soon be out the door or out of the league sooner rather than later. As for their young talent, Chicago also does not have much to offer. Nikola Mirotic, Bobby Portis, Cristiano Felicio, and Paul Zipser have shown potential, but all are very unproven. Besides superstar Jimmy Butler, they don’t have a whole lot going on. At this point, unloading Butler may be the best option for the Chicago so they can begin to rebuild.
Los Angeles has not have very much success recently, but with young talent in Brandon Ingram, Jordan Clarkson, Larry Nance Jr, and Julius Randle along with the #2 overall pick in the upcoming draft, they have an optimistic mindset for the near future. Not to mention their most proven young player, D’Angelo Russell. Add that with the strong likelihood that All-Star forward Paul George will be a Laker in 2018, and success seems imminent. However, only PG, D’Angelo Russel & company may not be enough make serious noise in the West.
So, how about a mutually beneficial trade: Jimmy Butler for D’Angelo Russell.
Specifically, this trade: Bulls trade Jimmy Butler and 2nd round 2018 pick for D’Angelo Russell, Luol Deng, and 28th overall pick in 2017 draft.
The Case for the Bulls to Trade Butler for Russell:
This trade would be the most optimal for the Bulls. They would get a proven talent in D’Angelo Russell, who averaged 15 points, 3 rebounds, and 4 assists for a very mediocre Lakers team. Despite the average numbers, Russel showed signs of being a very prolific scorer and an adequate playmaker. Also, at only 21 years old, he has an enormous amount of untapped potential.
If the Bulls were to make this trade, not only would the a natural leader and scorer in DLoading, but end up with 2 first round draft picks in this years draft with the #16 and #28 picks. They could use these picks to speed up the rebuilding process with good young talent with the draft being so incredibly deep this year.
Just to add icing to the cake, Chicago would bring back Luol Deng, who spent a decade with the team from 2004-2014. While not the two-way player he once was, he could be valuable in teaching the young guys, while also chewing up some minutes while the Bulls try to keep guys fresh to compete.
The Case for the Lakers to Trade Russell for Butler:
The fact is that the NBA is dominated by superstars. Without them, teams just do not have the ability to compete. While D’Angelo Russell is definitely talented, he is no Jimmy Butler. Averaging 26 points, 6 rebounds, and 5 assists this year, all while being one of the best defenders in the NBA, Butler earned his first All-NBA nod this year. Butler is just beginning to enter the prime of his career, and could be the superstar to lead the young talent already in LA.
With the #2 overall pick this year going to the Lakers, it is looking like they will take point guard Lonzo Ball from UCLA. While Ball is an adequate scorer, his best quality is by far is his playmaking. By trading Russell for Butler, it will give Ball more room in the front-court to distribute the ball to Butler and Brandon Ingram. Also, Ball is a better fit to work the pick-and-roll with athletes Larry Nance Jr and Julius Randle.
Paul George wants to go home to Los Angeles, but will have to get over the fact that the Lakers aren’t great right now. However, he will probably like seeing a proven superstar in Jimmy Butler waiting for him there, and make George more willingly to come. If after this trade the Lakers were able to grab George in 2018, then the Lakers starting lineup would be even more potent. They could either go with Ball, Butler, George as their 1,2,3, or move George down to the 4 to stretch teams out. Also, this puts two of the best defenders in the NBA on the same team.
This trade seems ideal for both franchises. Say this proposed trade does not happen, and it may leave both teams in a bad place. While the Lakers still get Ball and probably George in the upcoming years, a lot will ride on if Russel becomes the superstar he would have to become to bring success back to LA. Even then, it might not be enough.
The Bulls need this trade even more. Being an average team in the NBA is almost worse than rebuilding, and with their only asset being Butler, it will make it hard to do much with only him. Chicago’s best chance is to unload Butler for young talent, and a young leader like Russell would be the perfect start to the rebuilding.
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