You just had to know that when Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski finally got his own podcast, it was going to be must listen and filled with great information. Just two editions in, The Vertical (as it is called) hasn’t disappointed. The first one featured guest Adam Silver, the next Warriors GM Bob Myers.
But also in the latest podcast, which dropped Wednesday, Wojnarowski let fly an interesting rumor about a Bulls team that has struggled to find its identity this season under Fred Hoiberg (hat tip BlogaBull, who has the transcription).
Executives around the league, and people have told me, that the Bulls are very determined to add a talented wing player… and I’ve been told that the Bulls are open to…whether it’s Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson…maybe not both of them, but either of them if there’s a deal out there that they can bring in the best possible wing player available, they’re open to it… They need more shooting.”
It’s not hard to understand why the Bulls want to make a move. This roster as constructed is a poor fit for the up-tempo motion offense Fred Hoiberg wants to run — he put in a lot more of it in training camp and the players came to him and asked him to re-install some of Tom Thibodeau’s slower, more traditional sets. The result is these Bulls lack an offensive identity. Derrick Rose isn’t near the old Derrick Rose (and hasn’t seemed to accept that), they do lack shooting (especially with Mike Dunleavy out), Jimmy Butler is still figuring out how to lead on and off the court, Hoiberg hasn’t settled on front court rotations, and all of that has led to the 27th-ranked offense in the NBA this season. Plus a lot of infighting.
Whether they make a trade now or not, this Bulls roster is going to see a heavy overhaul in the next couple years. That starts this summer when Noah is a free agent and Pau Gasol is expected to opt out.
The problem with the trade idea is that the Bulls are not going to get a lot for Noah — he’s 30 year’s old but has Thibodeau miles on him and isn’t the same guy physically who won Defensive Player of the Year just a couple of seasons back. Plus, he’s an expiring contract so the Bulls would have to find a team willing to give up a talented wing player to rent Noah — it’s hard to imagine that coming together.
Gibson may have some value — he’s a rock solid NBA rotation player. He gives a team rim protection, he’s strong on the glass, and he scores efficiently, plus he’s under contract for another season after this at $8.5 million.
The other problem for the Bulls is right now is there are not a lot of sellers on the market. With so many teams still seeing themselves in playoff contention (the East is legitimately deep, and the bottom of the West is struggling enough to keep almost everyone’s hopes up) teams are not looking to move key pieces right now. Including the kind of quality wings the Bulls are looking for.
But this is something to watch as we crawl toward the February trade deadline.