Bulls

Three teams mentioned as possible trade destinations for Nikola Mirotic

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USA TODAY

Three teams mentioned as possible trade destinations for Nikola Mirotic

If the Bulls have made up their minds to trade Nikola Mirotic this winter, there appears to be no shortage of interested parties.

Three teams have been mentioned as potential destinations in the last couple days: the Utah Jazz, Detroit Pistons and Portland Trail Blazers.

First came ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowksi, who wrote in a lengthy piece on the NBA as a whole that Mirotic "has been intrigued with" the Jazz. Wojnarowski went as far to say that the Bulls are planning to deal Mirotic away from Chicago.

The New York Times' Marc Stein was next up with a piece of Mirotic news, adding the Pistons to the mix.

And the Tribune's K.C. Johnson added from there, confirming the Pistons' interest and throwing in the Trail Blazers', as well, adding the Bulls are looking for a first-round pick in return.

Much has changed for Mirotic and the Bulls since the offseason. Mirotic's contract situation remains the same: The Bulls can't trade him before Jan. 15, nor can they trade him without him approving the deal. Stein threw in a caveat, though, that the Bulls can pick up Mirotic's option, extending his contract and taking away his veto authority,

But, Mirotic's value seems to have grown since he returned from the facial injuries sustained when Bobby Portis punched him right before the start of the season. Mirotic has been extremely productive, boasting a 17.4 scoring average and contributing seven rebounds a game. He's shooting 48.6 percent from the field and 46.5 percent from 3-point range, averaging 2.5 makes from beyond the arc per contest.

The Bulls have also been vastly more successful with him on the floor, going on a seven-game winning streak as soon as he returned and owning an 11-6 record with him in uniform.

While Mirotic has done a lot in the last month-plus to show that he does have long-term value, capitalizing on this hot streak would be wise for the rebuilding Bulls. And if they could get a first-round pick in return, it sets up the ability to add two players in the first 30 picks of this summer's loaded draft.

NBA Mock Draft 3.0: Workout season could be more important than ever

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USA TODAY

NBA Mock Draft 3.0: Workout season could be more important than ever

With Zion Williamson making his NBA regular season debut Wednesday night, we finally got a chance to see what a No. 1 overall draft pick is supposed to look like: an athletic and versatile skill set, with the chance to impact a franchise for years to come. 

2019 No. 2 overall pick Ja Morant also looks like a franchise-changing talent with his speed and playmaking ability, lifting Memphis into playoff contention.

So, which players will have that kind of impact in the 2020 draft?

Well, for now it’s almost impossible to say. James Wiseman, the 7-foot-1 Memphis center, dropped out of school after playing just three games because of an eligibility battle with the NCAA. His size and raw tools are intriguing, but at this point his offensive game is extremely limited.

Meanwhile, Lonzo Ball’s younger brother, LaMelo is sitting out the rest of the Australian professional league season while he rehabs from a foot injury, another Australian professional, R.J. Hampton, just returned from a hip injury and North Carolina’s combo guard Cole Anthony is getting ready to return from a knee injury to finish his one and done season. 

That’s left NBA talent evaluators scrambling in trying to figure out the top of the draft, with only Georgia’s Anthony Edwards healthy and available among the players projected as the possible No. 1 overall pick. 

So, as we get closer to the end of January, here’s a look at how teams could view the available talent, with the understanding that the draft order will change dramatically as NBA scouts and GMs get a look at how players perform in the most important games of the season still to come.

2020 NBA mock draft 3.0

Kemba Walker and Trae Young being named All-Star starters could help Zach LaVine

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USA Today

Kemba Walker and Trae Young being named All-Star starters could help Zach LaVine

On Thursday, the NBA revealed the East and West starters for the 2020 All-Star Game in Chicago. Take a look:


Bulls fans will be honed in on the East selections given Zach LaVine's absence, though his realistic chances of starting the game have been slim-to-none since the first month of the season. In the last round of fan voting returns, LaVine was sixth among Eastern Conference backcourt players. He finished there, as well:


LaVine will get a chance to slide into a reserve slot, but the East’s starting backcourt of Kemba Walker and Trae Young leaves a crowded field to contend with. Guards competing for the seven reserve spots include Ben Simmons, Khris Middleton, Kyle Lowry, Bradley Beal, Malcolm Brogdon and Jaylen Brown. And that's without mentioning frontcourt favorites in Bam Adebayo, Jimmy Butler, Jayson Tatum and Domantas Sabonis.

But a modicum of good news did come from this announcement for those stumping for LaVine: Kyrie Irving's omission from the starting lineup. Irving, who has only played 15 games this season, had been second in fan voting at the time of last returns. Had he snuck in with the starters, LaVine would have also had Walker or Young to compete with for a reserve spot, both of whom he matches up with unfavorably. One has to figure Irving's odds of being selected by coaches as a reserve aren't high.

LaVine's chances still aren't necessarily great, but the coaches' picks for reserves will be announced on Jan. 30. If LaVine is shorted there, as well, there remains the possibility of an injury replacement down the road, which commissioner Adam Silver would select (this is probably his best shot).

Once the final pool of players is decided, they'll be drafted by team captains Giannis Antetokoumpo and LeBron James on Feb. 6.

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