The Bulls could use a player at Grant’s position, his defensive versatility, and they could use another scoring option.
But things have taken a turn for the worse in Chicago the last few weeks as injuries — and losses — have begun to pile up. It’s time to strike now before it gets too late and the Bulls regret fumbling away a much-needed move.
Injuries have brought the Bulls back to Earth
The most significant injury for Chicago came when Lonzo Ball went down with a left knee injury. He’s now had surgery on his meniscus and will be out for six-to-eight weeks.
It’s a massive blow for the Bulls. Ball’s 13 points, five rebounds, and five assists don’t tell the entire story of his impact on Chicago’s season.
The 6-foot-6 point guard has consistently been the head of the snake on both ends of the court for the Bulls. DeMar DeRozan gets the headlines on offense, and Alex Caruso takes some on defense. But Lonzo’s skillset has been fully unlocked in Chicago.
This news comes after Zach LaVine suffered his own left knee injury on Jan. 14. The team’s second-leading scorer hasn’t played since, although it’s been reported by ESPN’s Jamal Collier that Chicago’s star shooting guard could return sometime next week.
Caruso, meanwhile, just returned after missing nearly a month himself with a foot injury and in the league’s health and safety protocols.
Oh, and amidst all this? The Bulls lost their long-held spot atop the Eastern Conference to the Kevin Durant-less Brooklyn Nets.
Injuries to the team’s most important players not named DeRozan have started to ruin what’s been a fairy tale season. So it’s time to sprinkle some fairy dust back on the floor of the United Center.
It’s time for the Chicago Bulls to make the trade and cash in on the Jerami Grant rumors
Heading into the season with DeRozan, LaVine, and Nikola Vucevic, it was the offense that was expected to lead the charge if Chicago was going to make the playoffs.
Instead, it’s been the Bulls’ defense that’s become the key to a possible championship push.
However, without Caruso, the team’s defense began to crater. Now with Ball gone until at least March, it will be a challenge for Chicago to ramp back up on that end of the floor.
Chi-Town is still ninth in the league in points per game — but the Bulls are now allowing the 15th-most points per night.
Enter Grant, who would give Chicago a boost at both ends.
Chicago Bulls receive: Jerami Grant
Detroit Pistons receive: Patrick Williams, Derrick Jones Jr., 2022 top-five protected first-round pick via Portland, 2024 lottery-protected first-round pick
Via Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report, Detroit is asking for two first-round picks or a first-rounder and a high-upside young player. But Grant could be the best player traded at this year’s deadline, which could incite a bidding war.
The sticking point for Chicago in any deal has been Williams, a potential three-and-D wing. He showed significant flashes of that during his rookie season, but is Williams’ ceiling that much higher than where Grant is right now?
Jones Jr. is included to make the finances work, and if it takes an extra first-rounder to get the deal across the finish line, so be it. The Bulls need this.
Ball and Caruso set the line of defense (literally) at the point of attack. The Bulls declined without Caruso because they couldn’t keep guards out of the lane. AC is back, but now his running mate is gone.
At best, DeRozan and Lavine are average individual defenders, and Vuc has never been known as a rim protector.
Grant gives the Bulls the best of both worlds. At an athletic 6-8, he can guard the opposing team’s best player each night, whether it’s a guard or forward. And if he plays away from the ball, he’s more of a threat to defend the rim than Vucevic.
And that’s ignoring the 27-year-old’s offensive production, which has been north of 20 points per game the last two seasons.
When Ball returns and Chicago is healthy, a starting five of Lonzo, LaVine, DeRozan, Grant, and Vucevic is one of the best in the NBA. And that has Caruso coming off the bench.
Acquiring Grant shores up the Bulls’ most significant weaknesses and would vault them right back into title contention.
There might not be a better time to go all-in for a championship
Until the recent plague of injuries, everything has broken right for Chicago this season. DeRozan is having a career year at age 32. LaVine has been willing to play a supporting role, deferring to DeMar when needed, but has still been his nearly-unstoppable offensive self.
Ball and Caruso have been the best defensive backcourt in the league.
All these factors have combined to give Chicago a real chance at a title run.
But that luck seems to be running out. The Bulls need a shot in the arm. Grant would provide more than that.
And assuming a fully-loaded Bulls squad enters the playoffs, having the seven-year-vet in the mix to provide help at both ends of the floor puts Chicago in line to give what has been a perfect season so far a perfect ending.
All statistics courtesy of NBA.com.