NBA trade deadline: Grading Bulls' deals after active day


The Bulls were among the most active teams at the 2021 NBA Trade Deadline. To start the day, the Bulls traded Wendell Carter Jr., Otto Porter Jr. and two first-round picks to the Orlando Magic for All-Star center Nikola Vučević and Al-Farouq Aminu.Then the Bulls traded Daniel Gafford and Chandler Hutchison to the Washington Wizards in exchange for Troy Brown Jr. and Moe Wagner.And right before the deadline, the Bulls flipped Moe Wagner to the Celtics for Daniel Theis, as first reported by our own K.C. Johnson.But how do the Bulls' moves grade out?

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Bulls receive: Nikola Vučević, Al-Farouq Aminu

Magic receive: Wendell Carter Jr., Otto Porter Jr., 2021 first-round pick (top-four protected), 2023 first-round pick (top-four protected)

Perhaps the biggest splash of deadline day as a whole. The Bulls get a second All-Star to pair with Zach LaVine, and push their chips in to maximize his prime-aged years. It’s a bold move by Artūras Karnišovas, but one that holds tantalizing offensive potential and indicates both a long-term commitment to LaVine and a short-term commitment to competing.

Aminu, 30, appeared in 17 games for the Magic before the trade, averaging 5.5 points and 5.4 rebounds while shooting 22.6 percent from 3-point range (31 attempts, he’s 33.3 percent for his career). He’s billed as a strong perimeter defender who can toggle both forward spots.

The cost is lofty. Those firsts are nothing to scoff at, and while Carter underwhelmed, he’s still just 21 and could well turn into a good player long-term. But it’s clear Karnišovas didn’t feel he had time to wait around as LaVine’s preparedness to win became more and more apparent.

For the Magic, this one is pretty cut and dry. Two first-round picks and Porter’s expiring salary sets them on the path to a full rebuild. While Carter underwhelmed for the Bulls in his audition-like third season, perhaps he can realize his potential in a new environment. The light protections on those firsts make this a solid haul.

Bulls Grade: A-

Magic Grade: B+


Bulls receive: Daniel Theis, Troy Brown Jr., Javonte Green, cash

Wizards receive: Daniel Gafford, Chandler Hutchison

Celtics receive: Moe Wagner, Luke Kornet

(Structure via Ryan McDonough)

This one fully came together at the buzzer, as the Bulls folded a previous trade of Gafford and Hutchison for Wagner and Brown to include an additional swap of Wagner and Kornet for Theis and Green.

That’s a lot to wrap your head around, but think of it this way: The Bulls swapped two inconsistent reserve centers and Hutchison, who hadn’t played since Feb. 5 for personal reasons, for…

  • Theis, who started 17 playoff games last season and provides a massive frontcourt upgrade. At 6-foot-8, he’s tough as nails, a solid rim protector, can space the floor (34.7 percent from behind the arc, 52.3 percent from midrange) and can play the power forward or center spots. He should also mitigate some of the defensive concerns the Vučević acquisition invites because of his ability to play with Vučević, Markkanen or Thad Young, and hang on the perimeter in different coverages.
  • Brown, a 21-year-old, former 15th overall pick that fell out of favor after the Wizards drafted Deni Avdija, leaving him positionally redundant. A solid-sized wing standing 6-foot-6 with a 6-11 wingspan, he should improve the Bulls’ perimeter defense and offer upside as a playmaker, though his outside shot (33 percent from 3 for his career) must improve. File this under encouraging: In eight games with the Wizards in last season’s restart bubble, Brown averaged 15.4 points, 7.3 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 1.1 steals. He’s a compelling change-of-scenery candidate.
  • Green, an athletic, 6-4 wing mired at the end of the Celtics’ bench that could perhaps bring a spark if needed.

Worth noting: Theis is set for unrestricted free agency this offseason, and Green for restricted free agency, while Brown will enter the final year of his rookie contract for $5.2 million (he’s extension-eligible in the offseason).

Meanwhile, the Wizards take a flier on Gafford for Brown, who they’d already by all accounts abandoned, and Wagner, who’s fourth-year option they’d already declined. For the Celtics, it’s a salary dump to get them under the luxury tax line.

Bulls Grade: A

Wizards Grade: B

Celtics Grade: D


Bulls receive: Nikola Vučević, Daniel Theis, Troy Brown Jr., Al-Farouq Aminu, Javonte Green

Bulls give: Wendell Carter Jr., Otto Porter Jr., Daniel Gafford, Luke Kornet, Chandler Hutchison, 2021 first-round pick (top-four protected), 2023 first-round pick (top-four protected)

Quite the day for the Bulls’ new front office, who, after a period of inactivity between last offseason and now, have begun their roster shakeup in earnest. An approximation of where the roster stands after today:

Guards: Zach LaVine, Tomáš Satoranský, Coby White, Ryan Arcidiacono, Devon Dotson*

Wings: Patrick Williams, Garrett Temple, Troy Brown Jr., Denzel Valentine, Al-Farouq Aminu, Javonte Green, Adam Mokoka*

Bigs: Nikola Vučević, Lauri Markkanen, Thad Young, Daniel Theis, Cristiano Felício

There are snags to work through. Karnišovas’ quest for a point guard upgrade isn’t finished. With restricted free agency looming, Markkanen’s long-term future — and place in the rotation — is dubious after he was embroiled in rumors most of the day. That wing rotation could use shoring up.

But that team is significantly more equipped to compete than the roster at the start of the day. By all accounts, that was the intention. And as it relates to further, necessary improvements, Karnišovas and Co. have proven they’re unafraid to act boldly.

There are games left to be played, but for the combination of audaciousness (Vučević) and value work around the margins (Brown, Theis), the Bulls get an A for the day.

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