For f—- sake. It was hardly a surprise that the Bulls were active just before the NBA trade deadline. Jimmy Butler, Taj Gibson, Doug McDermott, and Niko Mirotic were all talked about as players that could be moved at the deadline. That’s when whatever this is happened:
Bulls sending Taj Gibson, Doug McDermott and 2018 2nd rounder to OKC for Joffrey Lauvergne and Cameron Payne, sources said.
— Brian Windhorst (@WindhorstESPN) February 23, 2017
Ok, let’s hash out the details here. The Bulls trade Doug McDermott, a guy they acquired from the Nuggets on draft night in 2014 in exchange for the No. 16 pick, the No. 19 pick, and a second rounder. The Bulls also acquired Anthony Randolph in that deal who never played for them and who the entire NBA is still waiting on to develop into a superstar. He’s still only 27! It should be noted that the Nuggets used those three picks on Jusuf Nurkic, Gary Harris, aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand… Nikola Jokic. Nice one.
And now just three years later, McDermott is one of the centerpieces of a deal in which the Bulls are acquiring Anthony Morrow who is continuing his quest to play for every team in the NBA, ‘King’ Joffrey Lauvergne who is only relevant because he has the same name as a now deceased Game of Thrones character (sorry, spoiler) , and Cameron Payne who has been hurt for much of this season and barely cracked the Top 50 among qualified point guards in PER last season while backing up Russell Westbrook. McDermott has been horrendous on defense during his time with the Bulls, but has shown flashes of being able to light up the scoreboard on the offensive end when he gets hot. Sporadic playing time and misusage hasn’t helped his development, but he’s really only played one and a half seasons in the NBA (he only averaged 8.9 minutes per game during his rookie year). His dedication and work ethic though is an indicator that his game — specifically on defense — could make strides as he gains more experience playing professionally. In his two and a half seasons with the Bulls, McDermott only started eight games for the Bulls and was hardly given an opportunity to thrive in Chicago.
Then we’ve got Taj Gibson, the Bulls longest tenured player and by all accounts a true professional for nearly eight seasons in the Windy City. Nobody’s going to mistake Taj Gibson for a star player, but he’s hardly someone you just dump off to a contender for nothing. He spent much of his career battling for minutes behind Carlos Boozer and Pau Gasol, consistently providing a much-needed spark off the bench and adequately filling in as a starter when necessary. I don’t think anybody who ever watched Taj Gibson play could say that he did so without giving 100 percent each and every time he took the floor.
Gibson is a 31-year-old unrestricted free agent who wouldn’t have had much of a functional use on a Bulls team that needed to rebuild this off-season. The Bulls failed to rebuild however and instead got older signing Rajon Rondo and Dwyane Wade which made Gibson’s presence a necessity if the Bulls were planning on being competitive this season. Obviously, the Bulls have been a massive disappointment but they still sit as the seventh seed in the East and had potential to climb with a strong showing in the second half. A possible first round match-up with the Raptors was quite intriguing considering the Bulls had beaten them in 12 straight games.
That’s irrelevant now because the Bulls have now decided that they need to rebuild and will be doing so with Cameron Payne and Bobby Portis and Joffrey Lauvergne and Paul Zipser apparently. They’ve basically started assembling the puzzle without having any idea of what the puzzle is supposed to look like. The trade is as baffling as it moronic. Vlade Divac is probably sitting in his office in Sacramento right now thinking, “What the f— are the Bulls doing?”