John Hollinger of The Athletic suggested a LaVine-Simmons swap might be the most attainable option for the Philadelphia 76ers while also making some sense for the Bulls. Hollinger notes the Simmons who could work well in tandem with Bulls center Nikola Vucevic while offering Chicago some stability from a contract perspective, since LaVine will be a free agent after next season.
There are some other reasons Simmons could be an intriguing target for the Bulls. First and foremost, he would give Chicago an All-Defensive guard and a perimeter presence on that end of the floor, something the Bulls have not had in years. Moreover, Simmons’ court vision and ability to start breaks in transition makes him appealing when considering Chicago could use more of a distributor in the backcourt.
However, is it really reasonable to believe a Simmons-for-LaVine swap would make the Bulls a better team? Absolutely not.
Chicago’s roster is pretty devoid of offensive weapons and shot-creator types outside of LaVine. Vucevic is one of the best bigs in the NBA, but he’s at his best when he can operate as a roll man or pop behind the three-point arc for open triples off screen-and-rolls. Coby White has some success attacking off the bounce or creating separation, but he can be reckless on the ball and is often lacking in shot selection.
What about the other players on the Bulls roster? Well, Lauri Markkanen is a restricted free agent, and it’s entirely possible Chicago lets him walk or tries to orchestrate some kind of sign-and-trade. Thaddeus Young had an exceptional season and was one of the team’s best playmakers, but he’s not really a guy who can go get a bucket.
LaVine was really the only guy who could generate consistent offense. He’s become a sniper from long range and can knock down above the break threes or pull-up jumpers coming off screens. LaVine and Vucevic duo also showed gradual improvement as a pick-an-roll duo, one that could be as elite as any in the NBA especially if the Bulls can add more floor-spacers in the offseason.
Additionally, LaVine’s All-Star season was part of the rationale behind giving up a strong haul to acquire Vucevic at the deadline. Bulls president Arturas Karnisovas seemed to indicate he was building around those two players, with the rest of the roster eventually falling into place.
If that is indeed the case, why would Chicago move LaVine so soon after bringing “Vooch” into the fold? More importantly, who would be able to take on the scoring burden? Simmons certainly doesn’t appear to be the answer to the latter question.
It should be said Simmons has found ways to score without being able to shoot the ball. He can get points in transition and off turnovers and moves well without the rock, often cutting to the dunker’s spots for easy buckets or put-backs around the rim.
Yet, were the Bulls to deal for Simmons, they would almost certainly need him to be even more of a scorer. That role doesn’t seem to suit the former No. 1 pick given his incredible lack of assertiveness and (partially because of his struggles at the foul line) unwillingness to seek out contact.
Simmons’ playmaking and defense would make him an interesting target for the Bulls, but LaVine’s scoring ability (and overall progression in recent seasons) is too important to the current roster for him to go the other way in a hypothetical deal.