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DeMar DeRozan, Alex Caruso, Andre Drummond — who could be a trade target for the Chicago Bulls?

With three days remaining until the NBA trade deadline, the Chicago Bulls are weighing their options after Zach LaVine’s season-ending injury threw their plans into turmoil.

Chatter around the league on Monday didn’t provide clarity or consistency. The Athletic’s Shams Charania suggested some promise that the Bulls could move a major player before Thursday: “DeMar DeRozan is the player. … I think the Bulls are gonna be open to those calls.”

ESPN’s Brian Windhorst provided an opposite outlook on a recent episode of The Hoop Collective podcast: “The intel in the league right now is that despite the LaVine injury, the Bulls are not actively looking to trade those guys. There is not an expectation that DeRozan is going to get traded, and I have heard ‘0.0’ on Caruso.”

These disjointed reports reflect a certain reality. It’s not clear how the Bulls plan to proceed from here. The front office is certainly fielding calls and understands the value of some of its assets.

But after standing pat through the last two trade deadlines — and with their original plan for this year’s blown to pieces — the front office’s track record doesn’t inspire confidence in their ability to adapt this week. Whether or not this week results in action, the Bulls need to rapidly re-examine the market.

With that in mind, here are three potential players the Bulls should explore trading this week.

DeMar DeRozan

Figuring out the next step for DeMar DeRozan needs to become the new priority for the Bulls — even if it doesn’t result in an immediate trade.

The Bulls entered this season with the expectation that a failure to produce improved results would trigger a dissolution of the current roster structure, which is built around DeRozan, LaVine and Nikola Vučević. And that’s where the team now sits at the deadline: well below .500, clinging to a play-in spot, not competitive for anything real in the Eastern Conference.

So it’s time for a change. And with LaVine injured and Vučević struggling through the first season of a three-year deal, DeRozan is the only remaining option of the “big three” at the core of this roster.

DeRozan will become an unrestricted free agent this summer when his three-year, $81.9 million contract expires — unless the Bulls lock him down with an extension, which could run the tab up to a four-year, $179 million deal.

Despite DeRozan’s voiced enthusiasm to remain in Chicago, extension talks have been fruitless. Although DeRozan said he wasn’t thinking that far ahead, it’s undeniable that LaVine’s extended absence — and potential departure — from Chicago will affect the forward’s outlook on sticking with the Bulls. And if the Bulls don’t trade DeRozan before Thursday, they risk letting him walk free.

It’s important to weigh exactly what that risk means. DeRozan is still a lethal shooter in the clutch who molded the identity of the Bulls locker room, forging a particularly important bond with young players like Coby White, Patrick Williams and Ayo Dosunmu. But the Bulls front office also has to be wary of weighing itself down by doling out a hefty extension to another aging veteran, especially with the burden of carrying the salaries of LaVine and Lonzo Ball through their injuries.

So if the Bulls are willing to move their locker room leader, what should they expect in return? Brett Siegel reported the Philadelphia 76ers would be willing to give up a first-round draft pick for DeRozan. That’s an ideal price range for the Bulls, especially given DeRozan’s expiring contract. Other potential targets include the Miami Heat and Los Angeles Lakers.

Alex Caruso

Every spring trade window, teams with their eye on a deep playoff hunt begin to seek out trades for Alex Caruso. This season, Caruso’s defensive skills, improved 3-point shooting and team-friendly $9.25 million annual contract make him a desirable asset.

Caruso could likely produce the largest trade payoff for the Bulls. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported this week that the Bulls want an “OG Anunoby-type deal” to consider trading Caruso. This is a comparison to the December trade between the New York Knicks and Toronto Raptors where Anunoby was swapped for RJ Barrett, Immanuel Quickley and a 2024 second-round pick. Another ESPN report from Zach Lowe cited Caruso’s trade value as high as two first-round draft picks.

NBC Sports Chicago previously reported the Bulls front office has received calls from multiple teams regarding Caruso, including the Golden State Warriors. The Bulls won’t have a dearth of options if they choose to move Caruso — but a decision to hold on to the guard would raise questions about how exactly the front office expects to use assets to build for a more viable future.

Andre Drummond

This is perhaps the most realistic move for the Bulls this week. Andre Drummond has been efficient on the boards this season as a backup center for the Bulls. But Drummond — who is averaging 8.3 rebounds in 7.7 minutes per game this season — has been open about his desire to earn more playing time.

Drummond has reportedly garnered interest from the Boston Celtics, Dallas Mavericks, Los Angeles Lakers and Phoenix Suns throughout the past week — all teams that are eager to find a backup center option to counter bigs like Nikola Jokić and Joel Embiid. His trade value would be significantly lower than the other players listed, but he could garner second-round picks or juice up a trade package alongside a player like DeRozan.

This is a trade that could have viably occurred with LaVine still healthy and on the market. Now, it feels like a simple path for the Bulls to follow.