The 2021 NBA trade deadline is going to be like nothing we have seen before. Usually, by this time in the season, it is easy to weed out which teams will be buyers and which will be sellers. However, given that the NBA expanded to 10 teams from each conference making the postseason, it will harder to decipher who is selling.
Right now there are only two teams, the Detroit Pistons and Minnesota Timberwolves, that are more than 3.5 games out of a play-in spot. With 33 games played the most anyone has reached thus far, there is plenty of time for teams to get back into the race.
That is what will make the lead-up to this year’s deadline so intriguing. One team that will be juggling between making a run for a playoff spot and selling for future assets will be the Chicago Bulls.
Chicago is currently tied for sixth place in the Eastern Conference with the Charlotte Hornets, but the standings are jampacked in the East. The fourth-place Indiana Pacers are only three games ahead of the 12th place Orlando Magic. Essentially, things are changing in the standings daily.
Square in the playoff picture, Chicago will have some difficult decisions to make. Chief among them is what to do with the veteran, Thaddeus Young?
A straw poll was taken with league executives and they were asked which player outside of Bradley Beal would change the playoff landscape. Unanimously, the selection was Young.
Young makes for an intriguing target for any team looking to make a run at the postseason. He is having one of the best statistical seasons of his career with an offensive rating of 116.7. The former Georgia Tech product provides versatility in the frontcourt and is productive on both ends of the court. Arguably best of all, he is not a rental and his contract for next season doesn’t break the bank.
There is a chance that Young could fetch a first-round pick in trade talks given how well he is playing. He is a seasoned veteran with 51 playoff games played under his belt. Teams who are desperate enough to add some frontcourt help might be willing to pay a premium price for it.
Last season, the New York Knicks turned the expiring contract of Marcus Morris into a first-round pick that ended up being Immanuel Quickley, who looks like he is the point guard of the future in the Big Apple.
Could the Bulls be able to do something similar this season with Thaddeus Young? While he helps their chances of making the playoffs this season, Chicago also has to take a big picture look. They are far from the only franchise that will be stuck with his dilemma the next month.