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Bulls don’t make a deal at the NBA trade deadline for the 3rd straight year

Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune/TNS

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — For the third consecutive year, the Chicago Bulls did not make a move at the NBA trade deadline.

While teams such as the New York Knicks and Toronto Raptors made significant moves to bulk up their rosters, the Bulls were motionless Thursday in the hours leading up to the 2 p.m. deadline. They have not made a trade at the deadline since 2021 — and have made only one trade since August 2021.

Executive vice president of basketball operations Artūras Karnišovas and the Bulls front office have been fixated on the same concept in the last three years: continuity.

That focus has resulted in a 110-105 regular-season record over the last 2 1/2 years, a five-game first-round ouster by the Milwaukee Bucks in the 2022 playoffs and a play-in tournament exit against the Miami Heat in 2023. The Bulls entered Thursday night’s game in Memphis in ninth place in the Eastern Conference at 24-27 — good for another play-in tournament berth but 4 1/2 games behind the sixth and final automatic playoff spot.

The Bulls spent most of this season with a seemingly clear goal in the trade market to move Zach LaVine, who made it apparent he was ready to leave Chicago in November. But those plans were ultimately fruitless as LaVine’s foot injury kept him sidelined for most of the season, finally resulting in a season-ending shutdown.

With LaVine off the board, the Bulls attempted to pivot. They had potentially tempting trade options in backup center Andre Drummond and veteran forward DeMar DeRozan. And defensive specialist Alex Caruso was an evergreen option if Karnišovas decided to break the glass and truly dig into restructuring the roster.

Instead, the Bulls stuck with their comfort zone — inaction.

With an open roster spot, the front office still has the option to add a player in the buyout market, a move that might be necessary if Patrick Williams continues to be sidelined with a left foot injury.

But with the trade window firmly shut, the Bulls will have to wait for the summer to make any major move for the future.