According to the Chicago Sun-Times, both Rajon Rondo and Nikola Mirotic are being offered up around the league. The Bulls’ front office is going down with the ship, and a move needs to be made. Testing the trade waters with some role-players is a typical start for teams who reside in the No Man’s Land between the lottery and contending, but can either of these assets return enough to turn the Bulls’ season around?
Rondo's Value: Next to nothing. There are not very many teams who need an aging point guard who cannot shoot the ball, doesn’t need to be guarded, closes the lane down for other players on offense, and consistently gives little effort on defense. That said, Rondo finds the open man as well as anyone in the NBA, usually to the detriment of his own game.
Potential Trade Partners: Few.
As we all know, LeBron runs the Cavaliers front office and recently criticized the lack of depth on his team. Specifically, LeBron wants “a f***ing playmaker,” and that is exactly Rondo’s skillset. The problem for the Cavs is they don’t have a ton of assets to move, don’t want to make their bench shorter, and have no cap maneuverability when it comes to fitting in Rondo’s $14mil a year salary. The Bulls should move on this as quickly as possible.
Frye, Jefferson, McRae and Mo Williams’ Trade Exception for Rondo and Canaan: Cavs probably give up too much depth just to take on the “playmaker” Rondo.
J.R. Smith for Rondo: Not sure why the Bulls would want to take on four years, $57 mil of 31-year-old Smith who will miss the rest of this season just to dump Rondo but does give the Bulls a guard that stretches the floor. Not sure why the Cavs break up the Smith/LeBron bromance, either?
The Hawks are also living in No Man’s Land and do not have a suitable point guard behind Dennis Schroder. It would give them a nice leader for the second-team who could theoretically run a pick and roll with Howard against weaker defenses.
Tiago Splitter and Tim Hardaway Jr. for Rondo and Cristiano Felicio: Splitter and Rondo are worth buying out, so this becomes an upgrade in big man depth for Atlanta, for a slight upgrade in shooting guards who can help stretch the floor for Chicago. Probably the most logical trade, unless the Bulls believe they can afford to keep Felicio.
The Nets have nothing to lose. They have no draft picks, no way to rebuild, Jeremy Lin is still out leaving the starting spot split between Spencer Dinwiddie, Sean Kilpatrick, and Randy Foye. The Nets also have nothing to gain, so they wouldn’t get rid of any assets and still have no draft picks to give either. The Nets can take on the salary, so it would be a good move for Chicago to get as little back as possible to keep.
Rondo for anyone on the team and/or draft picks. I’d prefer Bojan Bogdanovic or Sean Kilpatrick. I’ll even take Caris LeVert. Maybe the Bulls should have held on Spencer Dinwiddie in the first place.
Impact of trading Rondo
Getting Rondo off the team would automatically make the Bulls better. To get anything back from Rondo would be icing on the cake. Draft picks would help the looming rebuild the Bulls need to move forward, while any players or cash exceptions.
Mirotic's Value: A 25-year old swing 3/4 with lots of range and surprisingly solid skills on defense, in the final year of his contract. Able to completely catch on fire or disappear entirely. Even with his inconsistency over this season so far, he is a net positive for the offense when he spreads the floor for Jimmy Butler:
Potential Trade Partners: Many.
Paring Nikola up with the best offense, an amazing playmaker, and a real coach could bust Mirotic out of his slump. This would make Houston better overall, finally locking down the four spot and provide better defense than Ryan Anderson. The problem is there aren’t any good pieces to move back to the Bulls, so the Bulls would want picks as well.
Nikola for Sam Dekker and K.J. McDaniels: Bulls get Dekker, but not sure how different he is than Doug McDermott. Bulls probably need a first rounder back to make this work for them.
Nikola for Corey Brewer: Salaries work out, improves Bulls backcourt depth but Brewer doesn’t stretch the floor enough for it to be a huge improvement, and Brewer is already 30 years old. This would still improve the defense, though.
New Orleans Pelicans
A great complement to Anthony Davis, giving him more room to work, which will improve the Pelicans future as well, along with unclogging the backcourt.
Nikola for E’twaun Moore: Remember when GarPax didn’t resign Moore who would have spread the floor out and complimented Butler but instead signed Rondo to a larger deal? Stupidity and pride kept the deal from happening.
Nikola and Canaan for Tyreke Evans and Terrence Jones: This gives the Bulls a replacement for Nikola and improves the backcourt. Tyreke still needs the ball in his hands, but teams will at least have to respect his shot. Tyreke can also run the second team.
Denver has had a strange group of players for far too long. Denver has assets the can move. Nikola would complement Nikola Jokic well. Plus, it would be cool to have two Nikolas on a team.
Doug McDermott for Gary Harris and Jusuf Nurkic: Just kidding, GarPax already did that.
Nikola for Will Barton: This shortens up the backcourt for Denver, and gives Chicago a solid guard to build around Jimmy. Denver might want a second-round pick on top.
Nikola and Rondo for Wilson Chandler: Similar outcome for the Bulls to stretch the floor, plus gets rid of Rondo. Denver most likely does not want Rondo, though.
Impact of trading Mirotic
Nikola has not performed well in the final year of his contract, which could mean the market next summer for him is low and the Bulls can afford to resign him. It also means his trade value is low, and there is a risk that he is not capable of playing at a high enough level to warrant large minutes in the NBA. Chances are the Bulls can only get 70 cents on the dollar, and the team he goes to is just renting him for the year. The Bulls could be a bad coach or bad fit situation, but his chances of a bounce-back and making the move look bad are high.