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The Case for Ricky Rubio to the Bulls

In the second blockbuster trade of the NBA offseason, the Memphis Grizzlies have traded point guard Mike Conley to the Utah Jazz.

In the second blockbuster trade of the NBA offseason, the Memphis Grizzlies have traded point guard Mike Conley to the Utah Jazz.

First reported by ESPN, the Jazz are expected to send Grayson Allen, Kyle Korver, Jae Crowder, the 23rd pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, and a future first-round pick in exchange. The trade is the second major swap of the offseason, two and half weeks until free agency even officially begins. 

The Conley trade, much like the Anthony Davis trade earlier this week, will set off a chain reaction for free agents on both teams. Including Ricky Rubio, who had reportedly already been told by the Jazz that he is not a priority for them.

With Conley taking his place as starting point guard, Rubio will likely be entering free agency on July 6. Rubio was traded from the Minnesota Timberwolves to the Utah Jazz two seasons ago, making this the first free agent summer Rubio will experience. 

He’ll no doubt have several suitors, with the Bulls possibly among them. Although not particularly dominant on the offensive end, Rubio could be the perfect point guard to join the Bulls’ starting lineup. 

Rubio is not the point guard to pour in 20 or 30 points a night, he averaged just under 13 a game this past season, which might make him the best fit for the Bulls’ identity as it stands. With Zach LaVine and Lauri Markkanen as the primary scorers, the Bulls don’t need a point guard clogging the lane and dominating the ball.

Rubio is a great facilitator for dominant scorers, averaging 6.1 assists per game last season. Just look at his pairing with Donovan Mitchell on the Jazz. Rubio knew how to get out of the way, for both Mitchell and big man Rudy Gobert, which is exactly what he’d need to do on the Bulls.

Although Markkanen’s game is drastically different from Gobert’s, and Mitchell’s is only vaguely similar to LaVine’s, the idea is the same: make sure the scorers get the ball and play defense. 

Defense is something the Bulls desperately need in the backcourt. LaVine, as talented a scorer as he is, needs a defensively strong guard next to him to cover his defensive lapses. Rubio could provide the defensively stability the Bulls guards have been lacking, while LaVine focuses on offense on the other end.

While Rubio would fill Chicago’s defensive hole, however, he won’t be able to add the shooting touch they’ve also been looking for. Though he averaged just under four 3-point attempts per game, Rubio only hit about 30% of them last season. Even his field goal percentage is less than ideal, at 40% a game.

But the Bulls may be able to find shooting elsewhere, with Otto Porter expected to pick up his player option through the 2020-21 season. They could also select a shot-making wing in the draft, like Cam Reddish, or complete a trade for a shooter in the offseason.

And with about $23 million in expected cap space this summer, the Bulls will have plenty of money to sign both Rubio and trade for a shooter.

Follow Katy on Twitter @katyduffy_ for more Bulls news and opinion.

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