With all the attention devoted to the Bulls' options with the 7th overall pick, we sometimes forget they also have a selection in the 2nd round, No. 38 overall, which came from Memphis in the Justin Holiday trade.
It's possible that pick could be involved in a draft night trade or used to select a European player who might not come to the NBA for a few years, but if the Bulls are looking for someone who could possibly crack the rotation next season, there should be several good players available.
One of them is local product Admiral Schofield, a 6'6" swingman out of Tennessee. Schofield graduated from north suburban Zion-Benton high school in 2015, earning 2nd team All-State honors for Class 4A schools from the Associated Press. And even though he didn't get a chance to watch the Bulls' six championship runs, he learned about Michael Jordan very early in life.
At the recent NBA Draft Combine, Schofield told reporters, "Ever since I was young, my dad handed me these VHS tapes, His Airness, Air Time and Come Fly With Me. I used to play those over and over and over. I wanted to be just like Mike. Honestly, running back and forth, dunking on my Fisher-Price rim, just playing in the house and my family announcing, No. 23 Admiral Schofield! Having those dreams and being in the NBA has always been there. Michael Jordan really put that it my mind, that's always been my imagination, and you know what, it's coming to fruition now."
Schofield teamed with Grant Williams and Jordan Bone to lead Tennessee to a 31-6 record this past season. The Volunteers lost a Sweet 16 thriller to Purdue in the NCAA Tournament, 99-94, with Schofield scoring 21 points and pulling down 8 rebounds. At 6'6", 240 pounds with a 7-foot wingspan, Schofield's versatility should serve him well in the modern NBA.
"I'm a position-less player, and most teams see me that way, being able to guard 2 through 4, being able to switch and slow down the best scorers in the league, being able to knock down corner 3's. You know, come off pindowns, dribble-handoffs, different things. But really, just helping keeping the flow and impacting winning, just like I did at the University of Tennessee."
Schofield is a rare four-year collegian, whose experience and maturity should allow him to play immediately at the pro level. He averaged 16.5 points, 6.1 rebounds and 2 assists during his senior year at Tennessee, shooting 47 percent from the field and nearly 42 percent from 3-point range.
It's no secret the Bulls are looking to upgrade a bench unit that featured a number of G-League call-ups late last season. Schofield could be a fit as a backup shooting guard and small forward, but even though he likes the idea of playing in Chicago, he hopes to move out of the early 2nd round with strong showings during individual team workouts.
"It would be great to be able to play for the Bulls, be at home. Hopefully, I can go earlier than where they pick, or they move up to get me, that would be great. You know, I'm aiming for the 1st round right now. I think I deserve to be there, and I'll be working towards that."
But if Schofield can't achieve his goal of moving into the first round, a Chicago homecoming would be a nice consolation prize. After all, he already knows his way around, which gave him a built-in advantage during the draft combine. "It feels like I'm at home. When I first got here, before I started my real work, I got me some deep dish, went walking around on Michigan Avenue, really got the feel down. I haven't been back in a long time, so it's just great to feel like I'm being here at home."
Schofield wore No. 5 during his college career at Tennessee, the same number worn by the guy who will make the final call on draft night, Bulls' Executive Vice-President of Basketball Operations John Paxson. And, it just so happens that number is available on the current roster. Maybe it's not the No. 23 Schofield dreamed about as a child, but it still would be quite a story for the Chicago area high school star to play his NBA home games in the house that Jordan built.
AROUND THE ASSOCIATION
We're now less than three weeks away from the NBA draft, and speculation is running wild about possible trades inside the top 10. Cleveland currently holds the 5th overall selection, and the Cavs have been rumored to be exploring what it might cost to acquire the No. 3 pick from the Knicks to draft high-scoring Duke swingman R.J. Barrett. New York reportedly likes Cam Reddish almost as much as Barrett, and might be willing to trade down to pick up a future draft pick.
The Cavs are all over the map right now, with reported interest in several players, including Reddish, Texas Tech guard Jarrett Culver and Virginia forward De'Andre Hunter. If the Lakers pass on Vanderbilt point guard Darius Garland with the 4th overall pick, don't discount the possibility of the Bulls making an offer to trade up to No. 5 to grab their point guard of the future. The cost would likely be their 7th overall pick and a top 10 protected 2020 1st round pick, but with so many young players already on the roster, the price would probably be worth it if the front office believes Garland is the right guy to run their offense for years to come.
Reddish probably has the widest range of any lottery prospect right now, with mock drafts having him going anywhere from 4th to 10th. The well-respected Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders has Reddish going 4th to the Lakers, which could really shake up the top 10. Even though Reddish only shot 33 percent from the college 3-point line in his one season at Duke, some scouts believe he has as much "star" potential as any player outside the top 3. It's no secret the Lakers are looking for shooters to play with LeBron James, but they already have a pair of young forwards in Brandon Ingram and Kyle Kuzma. Unless of course, one or both of them wind up going to New Orleans in an Anthony Davis trade. The Lakers have also been linked to Garland, who's represented by James' agent, Rich Paul. Garland left the combine early after receiving a promise from a lottery team, which many speculated had to be the Lakers. But not every promise holds the same degree of certainty, and given all the dysfunction in the Lakers' organization right now, you'd have to believe GM Rob Pelinka, or whoever is calling the shots these days, would want to keep his (or her) options open with so many possible trade scenarios in play on draft night.
Back to Davis, who met with the Pelicans' new front office boss David Griffin earlier this week. While Griffin is determined to convince Davis the future is bright in New Orleans with the upcoming addition of Zion Williamson, reports indicate AD hasn't changed his stance on his trade demand. Boston was believed to be in prime position to make the best offer for Davis, but if Kyrie Irving decides to leave in free agency, the Celtics might choose to build around Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, along with veterans Al Horford and Gordon Hayward. That could force Griffin to turn back to the Lakers to find out if they'll make a "Godfather" offer of the No. 4 overall pick along with some combination of Ingram, Kuzma and Lonzo Ball for Davis. The Clippers and Knicks are also on AD's list of preferred trade destinations, but neither team has the same quality combination of young players and draft picks that the Celtics or Lakers can offer. Speculation about a possible Davis deal will generate the most buzz as we get closer to the draft on June 20th.
And finally, as if things aren't crazy enough in the league as we brace for a titanic offseason, the Houston Rockets are looking to blow up the team that gave the Warriors their stiffest challenge in the Western Conference over the last two years. ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reports Rockets' GM Daryl Morey has let teams know he's willing to move anyone on the roster outside of James Harden in an attempt to get some salary cap flexibility and lottery picks. Good luck finding a taker for 34-year old point guard Chris Paul, who's due to make $38.5, $41.3 and $44.2 million dollars over the next three seasons.
Morey has found more interest in young center Clint Capela, who has four more years left on a lucrative contract he signed last summer, and NBA teams will also be interested in high-scoring 6th man Eric Gordon, who has one year left on his deal at an affordable $14 million.
The Rockets are also re-tooling their coaching staff, firing several of Mike D'Antoni's assistants. The 68-year old D'Antoni decided to break off negotiations about a contract extension, telling reporters he will be back for the 2019-20 season on the final year of his contract and then see where things go from there. Morey has long been known as one of the league's most aggressive executives, but given the Rockets' cap constraints, he'll have to be incredibly creative to give Harden a better supporting cast next season.