Ask Aggrey: NBA Draft edition


Ask Aggrey: NBA Draft edition

Greetings. Its been a while, but with the NBA Draft coming up, a return to the mailbag is appropriate. As I said in the season-ending edition, it wont be a weekly thing during the offseason, but Ill be back with responses to your free-agency questions soon. Anyway, now that the shock of Derricks injury and the subsequent first-round loss to the Sixers -- not to mention the Heat winning the championship -- has hopefully worn off, theres been much hubbub about what moves the Bulls will make in preparation for next season.

Nothing can be done about the past, but the Bulls present and future could seemingly go either way, based on what happens starting Thursday night. In my view, while the Bulls couldnt have anticipated Derrick s injury-plagued season during the lockout, a year ago they should have been pushing for the NBA to return to the old territorial-draft system -- but based on a players hometown, not the college he attended -- as a condition of the new CBA. That way, not only would they have consensus top pick Anthony Davis in the fold now, but potentially Jabari Parker in a few short years. Sure, most of other teams wouldnt have taken kindly to that, but stranger things, such as LeBron James shockingly disproving Cavaliers owner Dan Gilberts prediction that Cleveland would win a title before Miami, have happened. Hope everybodys summer is going well and enjoy the mailbag:

Do you think the Bulls can trade up in this year's draft? -- Kevin T.

Kevin, I think the Bulls can trade up, but I doubt that they will. Theyre certainly exploring the possibility, as theyd like a injection of youth that a rookie with a big upside would provide, as well as the financial flexibility theyd gain from jettisoning one of their four eight-figure contracts, which is nearly impossible to maintain with the way the new CBA is structured. But in a deep draft like this one, with many of the lottery teams being young and wanting productive veterans, theyre not the only team looking to trade up. The rumored asking price of either Luol or Joakim and the 29th pick for a lottery pick and an expiring veteran contract might not work for the Bulls or their potential trading partners, depending on what other teams needs are. Personally, I expect them to stand pat on Thursday, except for the possibility of a minor deal to free up cap space.

When will Nikola Mirotic come to play for the Bulls? -- @chef_dreadhead

Chef, Mirotic will most likely arrive in Chicago for the 2014-15 season, though some overseas players in the past have opted to remain abroad. Regardless, the way it works is this: Mirotic has a buyout in his contract with Real Madrid and the Bulls can only contribute a minimal amount to that payment during the length of a standard, three-year NBA rookie contract. Mirotic doesnt make enough money at his current salary for paying the buyout himself to make sense, nor is it likely that hed want to. Instead, after the 2013-14 season, the Bulls would be in the position to buy him out of his contract and bring him to Chicago. That would also dovetail with the end of Luols deal and theres a strong possibility the Bulls would consider amnestying Carlos at that point.

Who will the Bulls sign to be our point guard until Rose comes back? -- Conner

Conner, thats the big mystery right now. I reported earlier in the off-season that the Bulls would make a push for future Hall of Fame point guards like Steve Nash and Jason Kidd -- you can add Andre Miller to that list -- but while at least Kidd expressed some interest in coming to Chicago, its going to be tough to convince a well-established veteran to sign at a discounted rate, even for a chance to have a significant role next season and have a shot a championship down the road. Still, the word is, that with the new CBA, many teams will be cautious about who hand out big contracts to, so if the Bulls stay patient, it could yield them a quality, starting-caliber point guard later in the summer or at the least, a bargain price for somebody competent enough to hold down the fort during Derricks absence.

Are the Bulls looking to draft a shooting guard? -- @TONYL0PEZ

Tony, theyre definitely targeting perimeter players and shooting guards make the most sense. However, if the likes of Ohio State power forward Jared Sullinger slips -- he was medically red-flagged due to back issues -- Im sure the Bulls would have to at least consider him. Also, if they have a point guard or small forward who fits a need ahead of the available shooting guards on their board, Id expect them to go the best-available route. At the same time, I dont see Thibs immediately trusting a rookie point guard to run the offense, even in a backup role, and while Jimmy Butler can defend both wing positions, hes best suited for small forward, so a shooting guard makes more sense than anything else. Unless, of course, they make a trade.

Is it possible to bring Brandon Roy out of retirement? -- Mike M.

Mike, I think its more than possible that Roy comes out of retirement. Even going back to last season, some of his NBA peers, such as Jamal Crawford, were relaying that he had an itch to play again, which makes sense, given his relatively young age, high level of play before injuries started to take their toll and how he ended -- at least temporarily -- his career. However, Im assuming youre implying whether hed come to the Bulls. That remains to be seen, although the Bulls did show some interest when rumors about his return popped up last season. But hell have a lot of other suitors, too, and there will be teams with more money to offer than Chicago.

Do you see the Bulls trading Luol Deng? Could a draft pick develop into a nice replacement in the next couple years? -- Kyle G.

Kyle, I dont think the Bulls will trade Luol for a pick. As he said himself, he isnt surprised that theyre exploring trading him, especially considering his contract is up after the 2013-14 season, but unless they got into the top-five or so of the draft, it would be difficult to justify trading him for the chance to get a prospect who takes years to develop or worse, the player theyre targeting not being available when they pick. Furthermore, not every lottery team can absorb Luols current contract and with the possibility he misses the beginning of next season with his wrist injury, it complicates things even more. More importantly, however, trading the teams second-best player while the Bulls still have a window to contend for a title -- albeit probably not next season -- and before Derricks future can be properly evaluated would be a very risky move to make, unless another deal for a star was on the horizon.

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Trey Burton, Adrian Amos earn Bears’ top grades from Pro Football Focus for Week 7


Trey Burton, Adrian Amos earn Bears’ top grades from Pro Football Focus for Week 7

The Bears were not at their best against the New England Patriots on Sunday. They made plenty of mistakes on all three phases and gave Tom Brady too many opportunities to control the game.

It wasn’t all bad from Chicago, though. Trey Burton emerged as a new favorite weapon of Mitchell Trubisky, and the tight end was the Bears’ highest-graded player in the game by Pro Football Focus.

Burton had a career high 11 targets, nine catches and 126 yards with a touchdown, giving Trubisky a 144.7 passer rating when targeting his top tight end.

Seven of Burton’s targets and six of his catches traveled 10 or more yards in the air, according to PFF.

Defensively, safety Adrian Amos led the pack with a 74.6 overall grade. He did not miss a tackle after missing a career-high five last week, and he allowed only one catch for eight yards against the Patriots.

On the bottom of the scale, outside linebacker Leonard Floyd received the second-lowest grade of his career (38.9 overall) for his performance. He did not record any pressure on the quarterback in 13 pass rushing snaps, and he allowed two catches for 13 yards and a touchdown in coverage against running back James White.

Wide receiver Allen Robinson had a career-low grade as well at 44.9 overall. He was clearly limited by his groin injury, targeted five times with one catch for four yards and a dropped pass.

Overall, the Bears were able to stick with one of the top teams in the AFC while also leaving a lot of room for improvement. It’s a step in the right direction from where Chicago was in recent seasons.

Wendell Carter Jr. survives gauntlet of centers to begin career


Wendell Carter Jr. survives gauntlet of centers to begin career

Don't tell Wendell Carter Jr. the center position is a dying breed.

The 19-year-old rookie hasn't exactly been able to ease into the NBA, finding himself up against a handful of All-Stars and powerful frontcourts just five days into his career.

It culminated Monday night with a date against Mavericks center DeAndre Jordan, and once again the seventh overall pick held his own. It was much of the same as it was against Philadelphia's Joel Embiid and Detroit's Andre Drummond last week (and Nikola Jokic in the preseason finale): some good, some bad, plenty of poise and zero backing down. The NBA is unforgiving, but this could very well be the toughest stretch Carter faces all season.

"He’s playing against top level centers now," Fred Hoiberg said before Monday's game. "It’s a great experience for him. He’s going to learn and get better and he plays within himself, we will continue to look for him to be more aggressive."

He was as aggressive as the Bulls have seen him against Jordan and the Mavericks. He blew by the 20 and 18 minutes he played in the first two games of the year, totalling 32 minutes. His final line won't tell the story - 4 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists and a block - of a Carter who defended well at the rim, picking and choosing his spots on when to attack shots and when to simply use his verticality.

He wasn't credited for a block but he contested a Jordan dunk that turned into a Bobby Portis dunk on the other end. Plus-minus isn't always a good indicator of a player's worth, but Carter was a +5 in a 14-point Bulls loss. He even attempted a corner 3-pointer early in the shot clock, showing no hesitation. Carter's had his moments, but it's also apparent he's got a 19-year-old body going up against veterans each night. That'll come with time in the weight room. For now the experience is 

"I appreciate the fact I’m able to play against these very talented bigs early in my career," Carter said after the loss to the Pistons. "What I need to work on is I have to get stronger; that’s the first thing I recognize; just being up against the best. I love the competition. It’s always a great feeling going against the best."

What the Bulls are finding out is they have a player mature beyond his years. As he progresses he'll continue to get more difficult assignments. He had his rookie moment late in Monday's loss, committing a turnover in the backcourt after the Bulls had cut the deficit to five with 35 seconds left. The fouls are also an issue, as Carter has committed 10 in three games (after committing 17 in five preseason games).

That doesn't necessarily seem important for a Lottery-bound team, but considering the continued struggles of Robin Lopez (and Cristiano Felicio is entirely out of the rotation) it is. Lopez had 2 points and 1 rebound in 10 minutes while committing five personal fouls. In three games he has 11 personal fouls and 11 points, and also has more turnovers (five) than rebounds (four). If the Bulls are going to compete until Lauri Markkanen returns, Carter will need to hover around the 32 minutes he played Monday.

He'll get a much easier test on Wednesday when the Charlotte Hornets arrive in town. Cody Zeller doesn't exactly have the credentials of a Jokic or Embiid, meaning Carter may have a little more room to work. 

The Bulls know they have something in Carter. It'll be abother month until they can deploy him alongside Markkanen, but if the first three games are any indication, Carter won't have any problems matching up with some of the league's best.