Suns and Bulls Go Head-to-Head in Post-Deadline Battle

Dec 7, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bulls guard Jimmy Butler (21) and Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker (1) get caught up during the second half at United Center. Mandatory Credit: Caylor Arnold-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 7, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bulls guard Jimmy Butler (21) and Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker (1) get caught up during the second half at United Center. Mandatory Credit: Caylor Arnold-USA TODAY Sports /

Phoenix Suns (18-39) v Chicago Bulls (28-29)

Friday 2/24/2017 6pm
The United Center, Chicago, IL
Fox Sports Arizona/Arizona Sports 98.7FM

Season Series – Suns lead 1-0
All-Time Series – Chicago leads 68-66
Last Matchup – February 10, 2017 Phoenix won 115-97
Suns’ Last Game – Win over the Los Angeles Lakers 137-101
Bulls’ Last Game – Win over the Boston Celtics 104-103
Suns’ Scoring Averages – PTS/G: 106.9 (10th of 30) Opp PTS/G: 112.4 (29th of 30)
Bulls’ Scoring Averages – PTS/G: 102.1 (23rd of 30) Opp PTS/G: 102.8 (7th of 30)


In a nationally televised game and with the Bulls fighting for their playoff lives, the Suns dominated Chicago, leading by as many as 20 points, running away with it in the second half. Phoenix lost their subsequent two games, though finished off the technical first-half of the season with a 137-101 blowout victory over the Los Angeles Lakers, the Suns’ biggest victory over their arch-rival in franchise history. For a full recap and historical stats of that game, read here.

Since then the All-Star break and the NBA Trade Deadline have each passed. The Suns failed to make a blockbuster trade, one that would set the franchise onto a different path of success than the slow route they are currently taking while focusing on improvement through the draft. Both the Phoenix Suns and Chicago Bulls did each make minor trades, each affecting the face of the roster as of today’s matchup.

For the Chicago Bulls, they shipped off Doug McDermott, Taj Gibson, and a 2018 second-round pick to the Oklahoma City Thunder for Cameron Payne, Joffrey Lauvergne, and Anthony Morrow. McDermott had been considered to be a piece for the future as he had been developing into a solid bench scorer and outside shooter extraordinaire draining 39.9% from beyond the arc for his career. Taj Gibson had become a regular starter for the Bulls with solid double-double potential each night as a power forward, but now 31-years old had already been in trade rumors for some time.

The Suns made a deadline deal with the Toronto Raptors trading away their emotional heart and soul, P.J. Tucker. In return Phoenix received only two pieces that will be kept, a pair of second-round picks in 2017 and 2018, although they are presumed to eventually fall into the high 40’s to low 50’s, so their value is minimal.

The loss of Tucker does hurt the Suns on the court as well as in the locker room as he had been the emotional leader of the team and fan favorite. He was also their only defensive stalwart, leaving the Suns with no true individual defensive stopper.

However, the tanker now growing within all of us must keep in mind that the Suns have a real shot at receiving the 1st overall pick in this summer’s NBA draft, and could end up very realistically in the top-3. Winning too many games can hurt those chances, and losing Tucker does help with that goal.

The chance to add Markelle Feltz, Lonzo Ball, or Josh Jackson must drive the franchise to do what is necessary to grab one – as much as it hurts right now.

Three Interesting Stats

Phoenix Suns

1. Their first two games after the break are against two Eastern Conference foes, the Chicago Bulls and Milwaukee Bucks. Phoenix is currently 11-7 against the east, and with their recent victory over the Los Angeles Lakers, have a shot at a three-game winning streak – the first since early in the 2015-16 season, and first of Earl Watson’s coaching career.

2. The Suns are 2-2 in their last four seasons coming out of the All-Star break, losing their last two in a row.

3. The last game the Phoenix Suns played without P.J. Tucker was on November 17, 2014. Phoenix defeated the Boston Celtics 118-114, in Boston.

Chicago Bulls

1. The Bulls are also 2-2 in their last four first games post All-Star break and have lost their last two.

2. Unless Chicago suddenly tanks themselves, they look pretty settled into making the playoffs somewhere between the 6th and 8th seeds. They are currently placed in 7th. They play 14 of their final 25 games against current playoff teams.

3. Over their last three seasons, the Chicago Bulls are 18-12 for a 60% win percentage without Taj Gibson. They were 102-88 for a 53.7% win percentage.