CHICAGO, Ill. - The Chicago Bulls are in a difficult spot after this weekend.
Zach LaVine, the Bulls' leading candidate to be traded at this week's trade deadline, is now lost for the year after opting to undergo foot surgery this week.
That pushes any conversation regarding a LaVine trade to this offseason, most likely centered around the 2024 NBA Draft and an offseason where the Bulls could undergo a massive roster overhaul.
That overhaul could still start this week. The trade deadline is Feb. 8.
Here are a few options the Bulls have at the trade deadline after LaVine's injury costs him the rest of the regular season.
Dive into Alex Caruso's trade market
If the Bulls are really open to shopping players, they could start with arguably their best all-around utility player.
Caruso was a key part of the Lakers NBA Championship run in 2020. He also made an immediate impact when he arrived in Chicago in the 2021-2022 season, lifting a Bulls new-look backcourt that included DeMar DeRozan, Lonzo Ball and LaVine.
Caruso is shooting the best percentage of his career with a .455 field goal percentage and has an All-NBA Defensive Team nod from his time in Chicago. A team like Milwaukee or Miami could use a player like him if they're gearing up for a playoff run in the coming months.
The Lakers would more than welcome him back, too.
Caruso's contract isn't massive, either, and it expires after next season, meaning Caruso wouldn't be a one-year rental for a team that has an open window to contend.
However, trading a player like Caruso comes with the admission that you're not looking at a deep playoff run this season.
The Bulls are currently sitting at ninth in the Eastern Conference standings, putting them in striking distance for a playoff spot and not the Play-In Tournament. A player like Caruso can make the plays to win the Play-In game and a series game. Trading him deals a blow to the Bulls' defense and the Bulls' guard depth.
TORONTO, ON - JANUARY 18: DeMar DeRozan #11 of the Chicago Bulls celebrates with Alex Caruso #6 against the Toronto Raptors during the first half of their basketball game at the Scotiabank Arena on January 18, 2024 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. NOTE T
Dive into DeMar DeRozan's trade market
DeRozan, 34, is one of the Bulls best offensive players. He scores 22 points per game, making him an attractive add to any team that is missing a consistent scoring piece.
His three-year, $81.9 million contract ends after this season and it's fair to start the conversation about whether DeRozan will entertain resigning or walk in free agency to a contender.
If the latter is the case, then a trade would be a way to make sure the Bulls at least get something in return.
It's also a difficult trade to make. Trading DeRozan now means the Bulls would have an emerging Coby White and Nikola Vucevic as their primary on-ball scoring players now that LaVine is out for the season. It would put the onus on White and Vucevic, and put the pressure on the front office to make sure they get something in return at least.
The Lakers have also been rumored as an option, as DeRozan is a southern California native. But at this point, the Lakers will always be rumored in every trade until they're not.
Option 3: stand pat, make no trades
Just because you can make a trade, does mean you should.
The Bulls aren't mired in misery right now. It might feel like that after losing LaVine for the season while also considering Lonzo Ball's injury status, too.
But the Bulls don't have a losing record without LaVine and White's emergence this season is a massive boon. All those struggles puts the Bulls at 9th in the East.
There's a chance the Bulls can still make the playoffs. Torrey Craig has returned to the rotation. Julian Phillips has shown improvement, too. Patrick Williams will return eventually from his foot injury.
LaVine's injury means the Bulls can circle back and trade him this offseason. It would make sense to push all the rest of the conversations to the offseason, too, when sign-and-trade deals can happen and injuries won't be the biggest factor in the conversations.