Threat No. 2: The Chicago Bulls
The Atlanta Hawks came into the season with cautious optimism, and they came in a little below expectations. It was reasonable to think the Hawks would be a mid-tier playoff team in the Eastern Conference. The Chicago Bulls, on the other hand, came into the season with misplaced optimism; it was clear from the outside that they were going to struggle, but the organization didn’t seem aware.
Will they seem aware this offseason? It’s difficult to tell. What is clear is that with Lonzo Ball increasingly unlikely to ever play high-level basketball again, the Bulls will likely look for an upgrade. That could be a smaller move using an exception in free agency, but it could also be a bigger swing that breaks up their core.
That’s where the Trae Young connection comes in. The Bulls offer a big-city stage and a decorated jersey for Young, and they have some options to send back to the Hawks. If Atlanta is willing to move Young and wants to continue competing with Dejounte Murray, each member of the Hawks’ core could be a good fit to receive back in a deal.
DeMar DeRozan could be the big-time shot-maker the Hawks haven’t had (unless you count AJ Griffin’s big moments during his rookie season). Zach LaVine could essentially replace Young but give the organization a fresh start with a different star. Patrick Williams, Ayo Dosunmo and Dalen Terry could be sweeteners in a deal. The money is tricky to work out, but the Bulls will certainly come calling this summer to test the waters.