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OPINION: Should the Chicago Bulls Consider Trading Wendell Carter Jr.?

Wendell Carter Jr. could be a potential trade candidate in the near future.

Photo: Chicago Sun-Times

It was only two years ago when the Chicago Bulls drafted Wendell Carter Jr. out of Duke University with the hopes of adding an athletic center to their young core. Carter Jr. was coming off a strong year with the Blue Devils where he averaged 13.5 points and 9.1 rebounds per game with his team reaching the Elite Eight of March Madness. There were high expectations for Carter as he had the most votes from his peers to have the best NBA career out of all the 2018 draft prospects. However, after two seasons in the NBA, Carter has shown flashes of potential, but has had his struggles as well.

A major concern with Carter of late has been his durability. In his first season, he missed 43 games dealing with a torn ligament in his thumb. Prior to the current season being shutdown due to COVID-19, Carter only played 43 games out of a possible 65 dealing with various injuries. I understand that this is a small sample size and Carter has a long way to go in his career. However, being injury riddled early on in his career doesn’t give the new management confidence that he can stay healthy in the long run. Health concerns may be a reason for new Executive VP Arturas Karnisovas and GM Mark Eversley to move on from Carter.

Recently, Carter has expressed a desire to switch his position from center to power forward.

The position change makes some sense as he is only 6’9″, where a lot of the centers in the NBA are near seven feet tall. However, this is a problem as Lauri Markkanen currently plays the power forward position. In addition, Lauri has shown the ability to score big points and play solid defense if given the opportunity. There has to be some thought from management to address some other needs on the team. The Bulls still need a starting caliber small forward and Carter could potentially be part of a deal to get one.

A final reason why Carter could be traded is due to the current draft position the Bulls have. After missing out on the new playoff format, they are currently projected to have the 7th overall pick in the upcoming NBA draft. If the Bulls are able to get a top 3 pick in the upcoming NBA draft, they should strongly consider going after James Wiseman. Wiseman is a center who most recently played for the University of Memphis. Wiseman is very long and athletic much like Carter, but he can also handle guarding taller centers as he is seven feet tall. In addition, he would provide tremendous spacing with Lauri Markkanen. This would push Wendell to a potential bench role, forcing improper utilization and adding another reason to trade him.

Although this scenario seems rather unlikely, trading Wendell Carter should be something the Bulls management should be considering. If the lottery goes their way, they should ponder targeting James Wiseman as a better fit. Carter still has plenty of potential and buzz around him, so there is hope that he can still blossom with the Bulls. If not, trading Carter for other needs may give the Bulls the boost they require in order to get back into the playoffs in the near future.

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