A drunk turtle moves faster than the NBA offseason.
The free agency craze has died down and the Summer League is a thing of the past. Even reports of Kevin Durant and Donovan Mitchell – who have become two of the hottest names in the trade market – have become scarce. Things will surely improve as training camp approaches in September, but until then I’ll be too stuck thinking about even the smallest of rumors – the latest of which comes courtesy of Jake Fischer from Bleacher Report.
The Utah Jazz received a royal ransom for Rudy Gobert earlier this offseason. All attention has now turned to what they will do with Mitchell, but the availability of the players added through Gobert’s trade is also worth watching. Jarred Vanderbilt, in particular, has become one of the most recognizable names in the market, according to Fischer.
“A lot of teams called about Jarred Vanderbilt,” Fischer said during a live Q&A (recording can be found on Spotify here). “I don’t know the number. I don’t really have any specific teams that I’ve heard of. But the last time I spoke about it in Utah, he was the guy who received the most calls, the most incoming calls of all the players who were on this Rudy Gobert comeback.
As Fischer makes sure to note, which teams actually picked up the phone to inquire about the power forward remains unclear. But he is confident that many teams have expressed interest in Vanderbilt, so I have ask…should the Bulls be one of those teams?
The front office seemed determined to go into the regular season with this existing roster. However, we know that Arutras Karnisovas and Co. aren’t afraid to blindside us with a trade or two, and Vanderbilt certainly feels like the kind of player this front office has entered the offseason hoping for. ‘to add.
A serious six-foot-nine forward who has emerged as a top player for the Minnesota Timberwolves over the past two seasons, Vanderbilt’s role in Chicago seems obvious. Not only would he give the Bulls a tougher, bigger option as a backup forward, but he’d give head coach Billy Donovan another multi-position defenseman who could even eat up minutes as a small-ball five. .
Vanderbilt averaged career-high points (7.0) and rebounds (8.4) last season in his 74 games. His OREB percentage of 12.0 this season — which ranks in the 93rd percentile, per Dunks & Threes — is especially notable considering the Bulls sat with the third-worst OREB percent in the NBA last season.
Granted, Vanderbilt doesn’t have the highest cap due to his complete lack of a 3-point shot, but he’s also not a complete zero on the offensive end. He’s still a scoring threat from the dunker point, and he would also immediately provide the Bulls with another solid cutting option. Vanderbilt scored the 17th most points in cutting situations last season and had the 11th most possessions as a cutter, according to NBA stats.
Already used to playing alongside names like Karl-Anthony Towns and Anthony Edwards, Vanderbilt is someone he’s proven to understand where he fits on the floor. I also can’t help but be thrilled that he’s only 23 and heading into year two of an extremely inexpensive, three-year, $13.1 million contract.
So if we’re just asking if the Bulls should check with Utah about Vanderbilt, I think the answer is a quick “yes.” However, whether or not they can strike a deal at the right price now is a frustrating question.
Front office leader Danny Ainge is not one to lose a deal. He also knows that many teams are calling about Vanderbilt, which allows him to raise the asking price. Although Fischer couldn’t provide specific details on what the Jazz wanted in return, he said his educated guess would be a first-round pick.
Now, to be clear, we’re probably not talking about a potential lottery pick. Fischer noted that something just outside of the lottery would make more sense, which immediately made me turn to the protected first round the Bulls snatched from Portland. Is it really worth giving up for Vanderbilt, though? I’m not so sure. The fact that the front office asset pool is already so shallow could force them to keep this pick at a higher value.
What about Coby White then? In my head, using White as the basis for this deal might make sense. While the Jazz’ position on White is unclear, they feel like the right organization to buy low on his potential. He’s a former lottery-level talent who could become his own as he works with an expanded role in a rebuilding team. The franchise may already have a more proven Spark Plug scorer in veteran Jordan Clarkson, but White could be an easy replacement if he ends up being part of that mass exodus to Utah. Something to consider.
Again, we all know Danny Ainge is not an easy executive to deal with, so whether or not the Bulls are able (or want to be able) to talk business with him is a fair debate. But the Jazz also look set to enter a full rebuild, which means now could very well be a good time to strike.