The Bulls are determined to find an upgrade at the wing and feel like they need more shooting, and they’re open to trading either Joakim Noah or Taj Gibson for the best possible wing player available, executives from around the league have told Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports, as he said on “The Vertical” podcast (audio link via Twitter at one-hour, three-minute mark; transcription via Blog a Bull). Noah, poised to hit free agency this summer, said today that he’s expected to miss two to four weeks with a “slight tear” in his shoulder, a comment that came after Wojnarowski recorded his podcast. Gibson, signed through next season, has higher value on the trade market, a Western Conference GM said recently to Sean Deveney of The Sporting News.
Jimmy Butler caused a stir with his recent criticism of coach Fred Hoiberg, but he’s well-entrenched on the wing with a new five-year contract. Tony Snell is shooting 38.7% from 3-point range as the replacement starter for the injured Mike Dunleavy at the other wing position, but he’s averaging just 5.6 points in 22.8 minutes per game. Dunleavy still appears to be a month or two from returning to play in games after a recent setback in his recovery from back surgery.
Wings are in high demand around the league, as former Nets executive Bobby Marks said to Wojnarowski on the podcast. The Timberwolves have reportedly made shooting guard Kevin Martin available, and the Bulls were apparently among the teams interested in him last season, though it’s unclear if they’re still eyeing him or if they’d be willing to relinquish Gibson or Noah for the career 38.5% 3-point shooter who turns 33 in February. Multiple reports have indicated that the Clippers are thinking about trading Jamal Crawford, though he’s a career 34.9% 3-point shooter who’s hit on only 30.9% of his attempts from behind the arc this season. The Nuggets are reportedly dangling Randy Foye, though he’s posted only 5.9 points in 20.0 minutes per game with 28.0% shooting this season.
Noah, who’s averaging a career-low 4.5 points per game, is making $13.4MM this year, while Gibson, a recent addition to the starting lineup, has an $8.5MM salary for this season, with $8.95MM coming his way in 2016/17. Chicago is a taxpaying team, so the Bulls can only take in 125% of the salary they trade away, plus $100K, unless they bring in players with contracts that fit within the minimum salary exception. The Bulls, who haven’t made a trade since July 14th, 2014, don’t have any trade exceptions.
Which wing players do you think the Bulls could reasonably acquire for either Noah or Gibson? Leave a comment to let us know.