Damian Lillard’s Surgery Impacts Chicago Bulls As 2022 NBA Trade Deadline Approaches

The Chicago Bulls hold a 27-12 record with just under a month to go before the Feb. 10 trade deadline, and they will be looking to upgrade their roster in an attempt to fortify themselves as a contender in the Eastern Conference. The Bulls don’t have a whole lot of trade assets after giving up so many for the current iteration of the roster, though the cupboard isn’t totally bare for this franchise that’s currently in first place in the East just shy of the halfway point of the 2021-22 season.

However, one of the first-round picks the Bulls do have just lost a bit of value because of Portland Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard needing to undergo surgery for an abdominal issue that has been bothering him for a while. Lillard will miss at least six to eight weeks, according to Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes, and there’s a chance he doesn’t return this season depending on his recovery and his team’s place in the standings.

Why does this matter to the Bulls?

Chicago acquired a first-round pick from the Blazers along with Derrick Jones Jr. in a three-team trade involving the Cleveland Cavaliers this past offseason. That pick is lottery protected this season and then in every season after that until 2028. If it somehow doesn’t convey by then, it becomes a 2028 second-round pick.

Portland is currently 16-24 on the season, which has them in the 10th spot in the Western Conference. With Lillard potentially out for the rest of the season and CJ McCollum still recovering from a collapsed lung, it’s hard to see how the Blazers make a run up the standings. While Portland could still get in the play-in tournament and maybe even get in the playoffs if Lillard comes back, there’s a better chance of that pick winding up in the lottery and not conveying.

That could potentially come into play when the Bulls are discussing using this pick in trades ahead of the deadline. The pick having a good chance of not conveying this year could force Chicago to add more value elsewhere in a deal depending on how the other team feels about it.

Lillard’s surgery could also impact the Bulls in another way aside from this first-round pick. If the Blazers go into sell mode, perhaps Chicago tries to get in on that opportunity. Robert Covington could be a target. Maybe the Bulls try to get Larry Nance Jr., who was actually a part of that three-team deal in the offseason.

Whatever happens with Portland, expect the Bulls to be aggressive as this trade deadline approaches. The ugly 138-112 loss to the Brooklyn Nets in front of a national TV audience on Wednesday highlighted some of Chicago’s clear weaknesses in terms of size and wing defense, with a knee injury to Jones (a key trade chip thanks to his $9.72 million expiring contract) making things even worse.

Arturas Karnisovas knows what he needs to be on the lookout for as Feb. 10 draws closer. There’s no reason to think Karnisovas is done making moves after already doing so much to turn this roster over in the last year, even if this Lillard surgery complicates things slightly.

Source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/jasonpatt/2022/01/13/damian-lillards-surgery-impacts-chicago-bulls-as-2022-nba-trade-deadline-approaches/