Report: Chicago Bulls no longer engaged in serious trade talk


The Chicago Bulls probably will not make a trade prior to the Feb. 18 NBA trade deadline.

Chicago Bulls first-year head coach Fred Hoiberg dismissed rumors of an impending trade after the Chicago Bulls 83-77 loss to the Dallas Mavericks at the United Center on Friday.

"I don’t think there’s anything serious out there. —-Quote obtained by ESPN-Chicago reporter Nick Friedell"

Rumors have surfaced throughout the season that the Chicago Bulls were looking to deal a frontcourt player. Pau Gasol, Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson were all previously mentioned as potential trade candidates. In late December, Chicago Sun-Times reporter Joe Cowley confirmed rumors that the Bulls front office had gauged interest around the league in all three players.

"The likes of Gibson, Noah and Gasol might not even see the end of their current contracts, as several sources indicated that the Bulls are taking calls on all three players as the trade deadline draws near. —-Content created by Chicago Sun-Times reporter Joe Cowley"

Noah’s current contract expires at the end of the season and he will become an unrestricted free agent this summer. Gasol said earlier this season it is “very likely” that he will opt-out of the last year of his current contract to test free agency this summer. The Bulls have Taj Gibson signed through the 2016-2017 season before he becomes an unrestricted free agent during the summer of 2017. A trade involving one of these players could yield a substantial return and prevent them from leaving Chicago without compensation.

Yahoo! Sports reporter Adrian Wojanowski reported in a recent podcast that the Bulls were looking to trade a frontcourt player for a dynamic wing player.

"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. —-Transcribed by BlogABull author ‘Your Friendly Bulls Blogger’"

The injury to center Joakim Noah on Friday against the Dallas Mavericks has changed everything. In the second quarter of that game, Noah got his arms tangled with Mavericks center JaVale McGee. Noah grabbed his left shoulder and immediately sprinted towards the locker room. An MRI confirmed that he sustained a dislocated left shoulder, and the nine-year NBA veteran will now miss between four and six months due to this injury. Noah, who becomes an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season, has now lost all of his trade value.

Noah’s absence makes veterans like Pau Gasol and Taj Gibson less expendable which could explain why Fred Hoiberg doesn’t expect the Bulls to make a pre-deadline move. The Bulls once had one of the deepest frontcourts in the NBA. Noah’s injury changes this.

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The Bulls need other players to step up to compensate for the loss of Noah. Pau Gasol and Taj Gibson have both played well this season and will continue to receive the bulk of the starts. The Bulls will expect rookie Bobby Portis to embrace a bigger role and Nikola Mirotic to find consistency in his game moving forward.

Hoiberg has suggested that reserve players like Cameron Bairstow and Cristiano Felicio could receive playing time. The two have combined for 34 minutes of playing time this season. Chicago-Tribune reporter K.C. Johnson provided a plan for how the Bulls could divvy up Noah’s minutes among other players on the roster.

"Coach Fred Hoiberg mentioned rookie big man Cristiano Felicio twice during his post-practice remarks Sunday, an indication of how quickly Joakim Noah’s impending shoulder surgery affected the Bulls’ big-man depth. Hoiberg said Taj Gibson, who also happens to be the starting power forward, is the Bulls’ backup center. Minutes are definite for first-round pick Bobby Portis and possible for the untested Felicio as well as Cameron Bairstow. The Bulls, Hoiberg said, also can play small with Portis at center and Nikola Mirotic at power forward. —-content created by Chicago-Tribune reporter K.C. Johnson"

From the perspective of the Bulls front office, frontcourt depth is no longer a strength, making all the big men on the roster–even Bairstow and Felicio—- valuable. That is why they have slammed the brakes on the initial plan of making a trade prior to the deadline.

Apr 25, 2015; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Chicago Bulls forward Taj Gibson (22) and guard Derrick Rose (1) and center Joakim Noah (13) walks off the court after the Milwaukee Bucks beat the Bulls 92-90 in game four of the first round of the NBA Playoffs at BMO Harris Bradley Center. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 25, 2015; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Chicago Bulls forward Taj Gibson (22) and guard Derrick Rose (1) and center Joakim Noah (13) walks off the court after the Milwaukee Bucks beat the Bulls 92-90 in game four of the first round of the NBA Playoffs at BMO Harris Bradley Center. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports /

Noah’s injury led to a dramatic shift in strategy. The Chicago Bulls front office has abandoned the initial plan to trade a frontcourt player because Noah’s injury compromised the Bulls depth at these positions. Although he has struggled offensively this season, the loss of Noah leaves a gaping hole at the center position, and the Bulls are unlikely to find a suitable replacement especially defensively. The Bulls need guys like Bobby Portis and Nikola Mirotic to step up or the center position will become a glaring weakness instead of a strength like it was before.

Next: Hoiberg; front office devalue Joakim Noah

Another trade deadline will likely come and go without the Chicago Bulls making a move. This strategy is problematic. With Noah’s injury, the Bulls need to find answers to their frontcourt issues internally with personnel that will have trouble replacing his skillset. In the long term, the front office needs to consider what to do with Pau Gasol and Taj Gibson who have contracts that expire within the next two seasons.