The draft lottery is over. So is the draft combine. Even with the Chicago Bulls losing their first-round pick, you have questions.
What are your predictions on what the Bulls will do with the 38th pick? Given all the roster spots that have to be filled at the moment, would it make the most sense to sell the pick and use that for future salary for Zach LaVine or other experienced free agents? I'm not sure what value will be there at 38. But I think using any available cash towards your current stars and filling out your roster with established pieces is a sign that the team wants to take a further step rather than bringing on another developing project that may or may not have anything to provide in return. I remember all the backlash (still exists today) that came with the Jordan Bell pick sell a few drafts ago. But I'd like to think that this situation is very different this year. --- Carson O.
It's not. In fact, an argument could be made that selling the pick this year would be an even more egregious oversight than the Bell situation in 2017. That one produced backlash more for the fact it came on the night the Bulls plunged into a full rebuild by trading Jimmy Butler and then sold an asset for cash than because of the player (though some fans liked Bell’s upside too).
The Bulls were focused on wings that year and couldn’t pass up the Golden State Warriors’ then-record offer of $3.5 million for the pick — a jaw-dropping amount for a second-rounder. Coincidentally, it’s the same pick as this year's at No. 38. Also, selling a pick for cash does nothing for your salary cap situation. It’s just money in the Bulls’ coffers.
But that was a previous management regime. Artūras Karnišovas comes from a Nuggets franchise that struck gold on two second-round picks in Nikola Jokić and Monte Morris. The Bulls remain high on last year’s second-round pick in Marko Simonović. Without a first-round pick, it would be beneficial to hit on any asset possible.
I know the Bulls’ brain trust not only scouted the combine but had plans to continue working the draft — not only for the 38th pick but to be prepared in case any opportunities arise to trade into the first round.
If Jason Preston is available at 38, could you see the Bulls taking him? --- Wynton G.
I’m not privy to the Bulls’ draft board. Nor would I think it’s finalized yet.
I don’t know much about Preston personally, but I asked two scouts who said they like his feel for the game and ability to orchestrate an offense. One pointed to his unsightly free-throw percentage (59.6) his final season at Ohio.
I’d guess the Bulls focus on acquiring a starting point guard either via trade or free agency this offseason. Whoever that is projects to form a three-guard rotation with Zach LaVine and Coby White when the latter returns from injury. They also could fully guarantee Tomáš Satoranský's $10 million salary (waiving him by Aug. 1 would save $5 million) and/or bring back Ryan Arcidiacono on a team option.
Am I wrong in thinking the Bulls would be fools to trade for Damian Lillard? Don't get me wrong. I start drooling every time I see a photoshop of Dame and Zach together in Bulls jerseys. But even if the Bulls had the assets and picks to trade for him, we would just become the Eastern Conference Trailblazers. I think Zach and Nikola Vucevic are upgrades from CJ McCollum and Jusuf Nurkic. But defense would still be atrocious and we would most likely be left with even fewer solid role players after the trade. --- Jon N.
You’re wrong, to me — as long as the hypothetical you presented is true, that the Bulls had the assets and picks to trade for him. They don’t. So that’s where you’re not wrong.
If you have a chance to acquire an elite superstar like Lillard, you do it and figure the rest out later. I understand the comp you’re trying to make. But if you could present the winning trade package to acquire Lillard, you do it — no questions asked.
If you're AKME what maximum salary would you pay for: Lonzo Ball, Dennis Schröder or Spencer Dinwiddie? Also, will the Bulls bring back Devon Dotson? --- Matt A.
I don’t think any of those three players are worth a max contract. But if you’re asking me to rank who I would pay the most to, I’d go Ball, Dinwiddie, Schröder. If you’re asking me who the best fits are, I’d go Dinwiddie, Ball, Schröder. This is, of course, assuming Dinwiddie is healthy.
And that’s not to suggest I think Dinwiddie is a better player than Ball. He might be, but he also might not be. It’s more to suggest that I think he’d come slightly less expensive than Ball.
But that’s a lot of words to spend on three players I don’t think will ultimately be on the Bulls. In fact, Dotson on a two-way contract is the most likely of those four to be on the Bulls, to me. Ball would be second most-likely guess.
Is there a shot the Bulls take a shot at Derrick Rose? I know you said the best chance was two years ago. But with a new regime and with how great Rose played in the playoffs and how much it would ignite the fan base, signing Rose to come off the bench would not be a bad idea. --- Emir M.
The Bulls absolutely should explore signing Rose, who is, it should be noted, happy with the New York Knicks. But remember: He never wanted to leave Chicago and the Bulls. He was traded. And while that move significantly stung him, he wouldn’t have shown up for a 2017 playoff game at the United Center if he wasn’t back on good terms with the franchise.
Would his love for the city and playing at home be enough for a slight hometown discount? The Bulls’ salary cap picture could go different ways this offseason. They can operate either as an under-the-cap team, which would require the jettisoning of several players, or as an over-the-cap team with exceptions.
Rose’s strong play should earn him a nice payday this offseason. But would most or all of the mid-level exception be enough to bring him home? It undeniably would jazz the fanbase.
What about three-way trade of Lauri Markkanen to the Mavericks, Kristaps Porzingis to the Pelicans and Lonzo Ball to the Bulls? --- Wayne W.
You’d have to include other pieces because neither Markkanen nor Ball is signing for close to Porzingis’ $29.5 million. I don’t see the Pelicans taking on that Porzingis contract when they haven’t ruled out retaining Ball and eventually will want to try to retain Zion Williamson.
I have full confidence in Billy Donovan and believe he was the right choice and is doing a great job. However, he seemed to be dead last in the league at using his replay challenge. According to this spreadsheet, he failed on his first seven challenges and only used nine all season.
Worse than that, he never seemed to understand that there are two main factors in deciding to use it — chances of success and value of reversal. When used, Billy challenged plays he either had little chance of overturning or wouldn't provide good value (save a possession, remove/add points, save critical foul). Or both. Have you observed the same, and do you know if it has been brought up as a growth opportunity for Billy next season? --- Phil B.
Donovan told us he always looks at himself first and uses the offseason to look at ways in which he can improve. So, maybe? Karnišovas has showered praise on Donovan. So if this did come up, I’d guess it would have been a brief review.
That said, I remember when Donovan challenged a foul call on Denzel Valentine and not only did he lose it, the foul got upgraded to a flagrant upon review. That play came in that tough home loss to the Wizards on Feb. 8.
I also remember Donovan saying he contemplated challenging a Thad Young block call on Joel Embiid in a Feb. 19 loss to the 76ers. But Donovan said he didn’t get a good look at the play that occurred at the other end of the floor and he wanted to preserve timeouts because the Bulls were having trouble scoring that night.