Bulls

Could the Bulls trade the No. 7 pick? John Paxson makes it seem like it's an option

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USA TODAY

Could the Bulls trade the No. 7 pick? John Paxson makes it seem like it's an option

John Paxson had the post-NBA Draft Lottery playbook open, reeling off textbook line after line about how the Bulls will find someone useful with the 7th overall pick in June. Paxson said the Bulls have already gone to their big board and that there are more than seven players they like, meaning the Bulls will have their choice of talent when they go on the clock at No. 7.

Unless they aren’t on the clock at No. 7.

When asked if picking midway through the Lottery will have the Bulls bypass the traditional best player available strategy and target a need such as point guard, Paxson seemed open to the idea.

“I think if you’re looking at comparable guys in a tier, sometimes need takes precedent over (best player available),” Paxson said. “And I’ve talked to our entire group about keeping an open mind on things like that this year.

“There’s other things you can do with picks to get better. You can trade them, you can do a lot of different things. So again, now that we know where we’re at, thankful to know and we’ll get to work trying to find a way to make best use of it.”

Doesn’t exactly sound like someone intent on keeping the pick if the right deal comes along. Then again, it takes two to tango and trades are difficult to come by for myriad reasons. For now, it’s feasible that the Bulls could use the No. 7 pick to go a different route than simply selecting from their big board after the Phoenix Suns pick at No. 6.

The Bulls, of course, have three options with the seventh pick. They can use it, along with other assets, to move up in the draft, they can ask for a package in return for the pick and move down, or they can remain at No. 7 and take the player who falls to them.

There was never much discussion the first two go-rounds of the Bulls dealing the 7th overall pick. In 2017, the draft day trade for Jimmy Butler came about just before the pick happened, so the Bulls weren’t going to flip the trade again. And in 2018, there were rumors about trying to move up to No. 4, but in what many considered a six-player draft, moving back to No. 7 was difficult enough – and the Bulls didn’t have many assets to deal at the time and Chandler Parsons’ contract was really difficult to move.

But perhaps this time around the discussions start up again. The Sun-Times’ Joe Cowley reported Tuesday before the NBA Draft Lottery that the Bulls and Lakers could have discussions regarding a deal for point guard Lonzo Ball in exchange for wherever the Bulls wound up. The Bulls held the fourth best odds in the Lottery, seven spots better than the No. 11 Lakers.

As fate would have it, the Lakers actually jumped into the fourth position in the Lottery, while the Bulls were bumped back four spots to No. 7. That’s not to say a potential trade between the two parties couldn’t still happen. While the Lakers were looking to rack up additional assets as they make a push for contention around LeBron James, the 7th pick could still hold value to give them a pair of picks in the first half of the 2019 NBA Draft.

It’s unlikely that the Lakers would part with Ball for simply the No. 7 pick. Though he’s been the butt of many jokes because of his outspoken father, Ball is still highly valued around the league as one of the best passing and defending point guards in the NBA. He’s not going to come cheap, and it’s unlikely they’d have any interest in Kris Dunn to sweeten the pot.

It’s also unlikely the Bulls move up in the draft. Williamson and the No. 1 pick are off-limits, while Memphis will have no problem building around Ja Morant as they enter their rebuild in the wake of the Marc Gasol deal from February and a potential Mike Conley trade. As we’ve documented before, it’s really expensive to move up into the top five of the draft, and given that the talent pool is so evenly balanced after Williamson, Morant and R.J. Barrett, the Bulls would really need to be in love with a player to give up assets.

They could also move back, but going from No. 7 into the double-digits is a pretty significant step backward. And the price isn’t expensive to move to No. 7 like it would be to move to No. 3 or 4. The Bulls wouldn’t get a king’s ransom back at No. 7, and after a 27- and 22-win season they need to stay aggressive and move toward winning.

The good news is Paxson seems open to all options at No. 7.

Bulls Outsiders Podcast: LaVine turns in an All Star performance as the Bulls beat the Clippers

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NBC SPORTS CHICAGO

Bulls Outsiders Podcast: LaVine turns in an All Star performance as the Bulls beat the Clippers

On this edition of the Bulls Outsiders podcast, See Red Fred joins Big Dave and Matt Peck. The guys talk about some big plays down the stretch by Zach LaVine and Denzel Valentine. Plus a great defensive job by Kris Dunn on Paul George. (1:30) See Red Fred states his case for more playing time for Denzel Valentine. (4:00) Plus what's going to happen when Otto Porter and Chandler Hutchison come back. (8:00) The guys share some concerns about Coby White in the short term. (10:30) See Red Fred tells you about 3 players who have exceeded expectations this year. (13:00) Plus the guys debate whether Zach LaVine should compete in the dunk contest or 3 point competition. (18:00) They discuss the impact that Kris Dunn has had on the defensive end of the floor. (20:30) Plus See Red Fred lays out his blueprint for the Bulls to make the playoffs. (23:30) Plus the guys make a wager regarding the rest of the season. (25:00)
 

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below:

Bulls Outsiders

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Bulls down Clippers, post 1st victory over winning team with strong finish

Bulls down Clippers, post 1st victory over winning team with strong finish

Just over two hours before tipoff, in his first public comments since Media Day, executive vice president of basketball operations John Paxson talked about how Jim Boylen’s teaching and coaching hasn’t always translated from the practice floor and film room to games.

Could the Bulls’ first victory this season over a winning team be a step?

And don’t mention that the Clippers played without Kawhi Leonard, Patrick Beverley and Lou Williams in the Bulls’ 109-106 victory, secured on Zach LaVine’s three-point play with 2 seconds to play.

“Well, we didn’t have (Otto Porter Jr.) or Hutch (Chandler Hutchison) or (Daniel) Gafford,” Boylen said. “So we can ‘Yeah, but’ it a little bit too.”

Bravado aside, there’s stuff on which the Bulls can build here.

LaVine posted his sixth 30-point game and ended a week filled with closing misses with a game-winner in which he powered through a Montrezl Harrell foul on a nice misdirection play involving Kris Dunn. Lauri Markkanen tied his season-high with 17 rebounds while posting his third double-double of the season. Denzel Valentine, playing all but two seconds of the fourth, hit a huge tying 3-pointer in the final minute and scored a season-high 16 points. Thad Young tied his season-high with 17 points.

And Dunn was everywhere, relishing the challenge of guarding Paul George down the stretch and winning a crucial battle for a 50-50 ball that led to Valentine’s tying shot.

“That was a huge moment,” Boylen said.

So was Valentine closing a game.

“I just thought we needed some more shooting on the floor,” Boylen said. “We’ve wrestled with defensive lineups, offensive lineups. We try to mingle them a little bit. I just thought we needed someone to make a big shot. And he did.”

Valentine has now scored in double figures off the bench in five of six games.

“I’m very confident in my abilities,” Valentine said. “I was just waiting for the ball to come my way. Zach is our best player. So the ball’s going to be in his hands. But shoot, I’m ready for it. I love those moments. I love to make those shots.”

Dunn, who finished a plus-22, defended George as he missed a good look for a tying 3-pointer. George scored 10 points in just over 7 minutes in the fourth but missed all three attempts following Valentine’s tying shot.

“I love it,” Dunn said of guarding great players. “I know my niche on this team is to guard. And I take pride in that. It feels good to go against a big-time player and be able to get stops towards the end.”

Markkanen actually received credit for the rebound that Dunn kept alive to lead to Valentine’s tying shot, which Dunn said Markkanen teased him about. Dunn finished with nine points, nine rebounds, four assists, three blocks and two steals.

But his two biggest plays didn’t even crash the box score. He won the 50-50 ball to lead to Valentine’s tying shot and then confused the Clippers’ defense by slipping a screen on LaVine’s game-winner.

“I knew Zach was going to get downhill,” Dunn said. “Because once I did it, I saw Paul George look at me.”

LaVine couldn’t believe how much space he had to operate.

“I’ll take it,” he said. “Once I saw the lane open up, I think there were like 5 seconds left. We were trying to get the last shot. But once the lane opened up, I tried to get a one-on-one. He’s a tough dude. I knew I could attack his body.”

LaVine missed game-winning attempts on an isolation 3-pointer against the Warriors and over a double-team against the Raptors. His three-point play offered a dose of redemption for a player who is never afraid to fail.

“You’re not going to be perfect. As much as people are going to show more of the bad than the good, I’ve had a lot of good times in the clutch as well,” LaVine said. “I try to make the right play for us to win. And I did that tonight.”

For one night, matters were more positive. The Bulls closed out a game against a good team and received multiple contributions while doing so.

Heck, Boylen even downplayed Paxson’s vote of confidence.

“We understand what we’re trying to do. We’re in step on what we’re asking our guys to do and play like and work like and care like,” the coach said. “I’m thankful for it. But I wouldn’t expect anything less.”