Could Bulls and Magic be ideal off-season trading partners?

CHICAGO — In all three competitions the Bulls played against Orlando this season, one couldn’t help but wonder how many of the young Magic players would be a good fit for Chicago.

As the Magic wrapped up a 2-1 win of the season with a 100-91 win over the Bulls at the United Center on Monday, thoughts inevitably turned to the future. Here’s to an offseason that will put a merciful end to this brutally bumpy Bulls season. And more specifically, at a time later this summer when the bulls might try to pluck some of those talented young pups from the Magic.

Orlando handed the Bulls their fourth straight loss, dropping them to 26-31 and putting them closer to the odds of not even making the play-in tournament. As the Bulls collapsed, the Magic provided one last reminder of what could have been.

Wendell Carter Jr., whom the Bulls gave up along with two first-round picks to bring in Nikola Vučevič, has found his way. Franz Wagner, the first of Chicago’s money-making picks for Orlando, appears to be a star in the making. The Magic also have this year’s #1 pick, Paolo Banchero, among many other prospects.

The Bulls need to get younger and more athletic after helping Orlando build a roster littered with those traits – something the injury-plagued Bulls have failed to find a counter to all season.

With both teams going in different directions and Magic having a wealth of talent, the franchises could make ideal trading partners this offseason. Here are five Magic players the cops should be watching.

Zach LaVine dribbles against Jalen Suggs in the second half on Monday. (Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

The bulls need better guard play and Suggs could provide stability in the short and long term. Suggs, 21, was No. 5 in 2021 but played a reduced role behind a healthy and rejuvenated Markelle Fultz in his second season. Maybe the magic will have to find a new home for him soon. Orlando also has Cole Anthony, 22, in backcourt and a forthcoming decision on whether to extend his rookie contract. If the Magic continues with Fultz and Anthony, the Bulls will have an opportunity to get hold of Suggs.

This lithe and versatile forward featured in his tenth game in three years on Monday night. He has a long way to go to regain his pre-knee form. But with Banchero, Wagner, and Carter, the magic could be sitting up front, trying to get Isaac to fill out their list better. If so, the bulls should attempt to acquire it. He’s 6ft 11 tall and capable of defending himself anywhere on the court. His length and athleticism are just what the bulls need and when he’s healthy Isaac can offer shot blocking and ground clearance as a solid shooting big. Once a building block in Orlando, Isaac may need a change of scenery. Orlando would do well to get him one and get the greatest possible loot back.

Bol Bol

Inside size is an issue for the Bulls, even with Vučević and Andre Drummond on the list. If the cops could mix the two, they’d sit pretty. But with two centers who have glaring weaknesses (Vučević’s defense and lack of mass; Drummond’s offense, fouling and free throws), the Bulls need a more modern big man. The 7-2 bol bol is not a bad place to start. He will be in the final year of his contract with the Magic next season at $2.2 million, and the same off-court stability that could force Orlando to seek Isaac a new home could also apply to Bol . The Magic could easily keep Bol as he’s in the middle of a breakout season. But if finances and fit cloud his future, the bulls should make the call.

Shooting is an urgent need, as evidenced by the Bulls’ recent humiliating performance: a 3-for-21 performance from a 3-point range against the Magic. In the last five contests, the Bulls have won 26 to 125 (20.8 percent) from 3-point range. And this is the same franchise that watched this roster for 52 games but concluded that the smart way to close the trade didn’t do anything. Harris is nothing special. But he’s shooting a career-best 46 percent at four 3s a game this season, and he’s adding two-way talent as a full-back.

let’s go crazy

Would the Bulls and Magic be interested in an offseason deal with Zach LaVine at its core?

The Bulls could get a collection of the above players: Suggs, Isaac, Bol and Harris. The Magic could supercharge their lineup with LaVine. Maybe the Bulls would throw in Patrick Williams. Maybe the magic would send the Bulls first round back. A Magic starting lineup of Fultz, LaVine, Wagner, Banchero, and Carter has serious potential. Chicago could embark on a new and possibly better path with a working core of Lonzo Ball, DeMar DeRozan, Suggs, Isaac, Harris and possibly Vučević.

It is something.

By sticking with the shooting component required for the Bulls, this Michigan second-round pick shows early prospects as a future elite shooter. The 20-year-old rookie forward has played in just 33 competitions, averaging just 16.4 minutes. But he connected 38 percent of his 2.5 3-pointers per game. Houston was unpredictable in college but seems poised at the NBA level. In the right environment he could thrive. It could be Chicago one day. He’s another for the Bulls to keep an eye on.

(Photo by Orlando’s Zach LaVine and Jonathan Isaac: Kamil Krzaczynski / USA Today) Could Bulls and Magic be ideal off-season trading partners?

Russell Falcon

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