Bulls

Bulls might have to wait for shooting guard upgrade

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Bulls might have to wait for shooting guard upgrade

Thursday, Jan. 6, 2011
10:44 AM

By Mark Schanowski
CSNChicago.com

An increasing number of Bulls fans are growing impatient with the continuing lack of production from starter Keith Bogans at the shooting guard position. And, rest assured, Bulls management shares your concerns. Thats why you keep reading internet reports about the Bulls being one of the most active teams in pursuing possible trades.

The problem is, because Joakim Noah is likely to miss another six weeks or so while rehabbing from thumb ligament surgery, the Bulls dont have enough frontcourt depth to trade away reserve players like Taj Gibson and Omer Asik. And, those are the guys teams are asking for when discussing possible deals.

The other issue is money. Because the Bulls are under the salary cap, they dont have a lot of big dollar contracts theyre willing to move, which makes it tough to match up salaries with other teams. That means if the Bulls were seriously interested in acquiring a veteran who makes 10 to 12 million dollars this season like Jamal Crawford, Richard Hamilton or Jason Richardson, theyd probably need to send four or five players back to make the money work, and thats just not realistic.

Even a guy like Stephen Jackson makes over 8 million dollars, which means the Bulls would probably have to trade Gibson, James Johnson and Ronnie Brewer or Kyle Korver to make the deal work financially, and theyre obviously not going to do that for a soon to be 33-year-old guard with a history of attitude problems.

So, which players might the Bulls have a shot at as we get closer to Noahs return and the February 24th trade deadline? Two guys who have been linked to the Bulls in past rumors who would be financially realistic targets are Portlands Rudy Fernandez and Memphis O.J. Mayo. The problem with Fernandez is hes an inconsistent shooter whos been very open about his desire to return to Europe when his NBA contract expires. Plus, the Blazers might not be willing to trade him now because of Brandon Roys serious knee problems.

As for Mayo, hes not really a pure shooter, either. Mayo is most effective with the ball in his hands, creating shots off the dribble. That style would probably make him a bad match with Derrick Rose in the backcourt. And, even though Mayo is currently coming off the bench in Memphis, the Grizzlies reportedly are asking for a hefty return in exchange for the number 3 pick in the 2008 draft.

Heres some names to watch for as we get closer to the deadline. Rodney Stuckey has seen his playing time drop in Detroit, and his salary of just under 3 million dollars means the Bulls could probably get him for Gibson and a number one draft pick, and use their remaining cap room to make up the difference in salaries. Stuckey is still the Pistons leading scorer at right around 15 points per game, and has good size at 6-5. Hes been playing the point in Detroit, but he has the shooting range to be a good partner with Rose here in Chicago.

The Pistons might not be willing to deal with the Bulls, but how about Toronto? The Raptors are in total rebuild mode now, which makes a good shooting reserve like Leandro Barbosa a luxury they probably cant affort. Barbosa is a 40 percent shooter from 3-point range for his career, and has extensive playoff experience with Phoenix. The biggest issue with Barbosa is his salary of 7 million dollars. The Bulls would probably have to move three of their bench players to make a trade possible under salary cap rules.

As for some other possibilities, San Antonio drafted shooting guard James Anderson last summer, but hes only played six games because of a broken foot, and probably wont get any time when he returns to action next month because of the emergence of free agent find Gary Neal as a long range shooting specialist off the bench. Maybe the Spurs would move him for a 1st round draft pick.

And, there are always journeymen veterans available like Rasual Butler, DeShawn Stevenson and Napervilles Anthony Parker. Bottom line, Gar Forman and John Paxson will continue to work the phones. But until Noah is closer to returning, a trade is probably unlikely.

ROSE NEEDS YOUR HELP

Now that Chicago sports fans have voted Jonathan Toews and Duncan Keith into the NHLs All-Star game, its time to get behind Derrick Rose. Amazingly, Rose is only 3rd in the balloting among Eastern Conference guards, some 56 thousand votes behind runner-up Rajon Rondo of Boston. Rose is the only NBA player currently in the top ten in both scoring and assists, and you could make an argument for him being the leagues MVP during the first half of the season. Rondo, meanwhile, missed about two weeks with an ankle injury, and even though he leads the league in assists, his shaky shooting hardly makes him deserving of an All-Star start. Plus, Rondo is playing alongside four possible future Hall of Famers in Boston (Shaquille O'Neal, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen.)

Dwyane Wade currently leads the voting for Eastern Conference guards, and the Chicago area native deserves to be a starter, but his running mate in L.A. on February 20th in Los Angeles should be D-Rose. And, only you can make that happen with your votes. Go to NBA.com or Bulls.com to make your voice heard. On line balloting will continues for the next two and a half weeks.

As always, Id love to hear what you think. Please post your comments about the Bulls shooting guard situation in the section below. It should be an exciting 2011 for all of us basketball fans here in Chicago.

Mark Schanowski hosts our Bulls pre- and postgame studio coverage with 15-year NBA veteran Kendall Gill. You can also watch Mark on SportsNet Central, Sunday through Thursday at 6:30 and 10 p.m.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Should Bulls use Lauri Markkanen as centerpiece of a trade to bring in a superstar?

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Should Bulls use Lauri Markkanen as centerpiece of a trade to bring in a superstar?

On this episode of SportsTalk Live, Hub Arkush (670 The Score/Pro Football Weekly), Danny Parkins (670 The Score) and Lauren Comitor (The Athletic) join David Kaplan on the panel.

Manny Machado Mania continues in Chicago. Do the Cubs even need to trade for him to win the World Series this year?

Ricky Renteria has to bench another player for not hustling. Is this becoming a problem on the South Side?

Plus, Lauri Markkanen is named to the All-Rookie team. Could he be the centerpiece of a trade if the Bulls want to acquire a superstar or move up in the draft? 

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below:

NBA 'promises' to potential draft picks not unusual

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USA TODAY

NBA 'promises' to potential draft picks not unusual

Bulls Twitter went on high alert after last week's national report that the front office had made a "promise" to draft Boise State small forward Chandler Hutchison if he was still on the board at No. 22 in the first round. Weren't the Bulls supposed to be interested in SF prospects like Michael Porter Jr., Mikal Bridges and Miles Bridges with their own first round selection? Did a "promise" to Hutchison mean the Bulls would go with Wendell Carter, Trae Young or Collin Sexton at No. 7?

The simple answer is the Bulls haven't made any final decisions on either pick. They still plan to bring the top prospects in for workouts and interviews before June 21 and will continue to take a close look at players likely to be available in the 18-30 range.

And, like any professional sports franchise, the Bulls aren't about to confirm or deny they've made a commitment to Hutchison or any other player. Drafts are fluid, and invariably players will rise and fall throughout the workout/interview process as teams try to get their boards lined up for the big night.

The main reason a team will make a "promise" to a player is to eliminate his incentive to work out for other franchises. In the case of Hutchison, he's obviously received assurances from a team or teams that he will be drafted in the first round. Hutchison cancelled his plans to participate in last week's NBA Draft Combine, and most likely will only work out for teams drafting ahead of the franchise that said they would select him.

Jerry Krause would famously try to hide his interest in players he coveted in a particular year and persuade them not to work out for other teams. The best example came in 1987 when a little known player from Central Arkansas named Scottie Pippen became an obsession for Krause, and the Bulls GM tried everything in his power to keep Pippen under wraps. Problem is, Pippen did attend the scouting combine and quickly became the hot topic among NBA scouts and executives. It took some intense work on Krause's part to arrange for the draft night trade that brought Pippen to Chicago for Olden Polynice. Krause also added Horace Grant later in that same draft, and the foundation was built for the Bulls' first three championship teams.

So, the idea of a team making a "promise" to a player they like is certainly nothing new. What's important to understand is that doesn't guarantee the team will follow through on that promise when they're on the clock. Back in 2013, the Bulls got word to Louisville big man Gorgui Dieng they were interested in taking him with their No. 20 pick in round one. But when the Bulls were on the clock, the front office decided they would rather have New Mexico swingman Tony Snell who was ranked higher on their draft board. The Bulls drafted Snell, much to Dieng and his agent's surprise. Dieng wound up going to Utah with the next pick and was traded to Minnesota. He's still with that franchise today, although in a reduced role after the Timberwolves signed Taj Gibson as a free agent last summer.

With so much uncertainty in this year's draft, it seems unlikely the Bulls would "promise" to select Hutchison five weeks before the selection process was going to begin. Hutchison and his agent most likely received assurances from NBA executives that he would be drafted in the 20-30 range, and that was enough to get him to drop out of the combine. But just like in 2013, if the Bulls see a player ranked higher on their draft board fall to 22, that's the player they're going to take.

Hutchison is a good prospect, a 3-and-D player who would fit well with the team the Bulls are building. But he's also a 22-year-old senior without the upside of some of the younger prospects who might be available with the Bulls' pick late in Round 1. Both Hutchison and the Bulls have to reserve the right to protect their own best interests. Hutchison will most likely agree to work out for teams drafting earlier than 22, and he'll have to understand if the Bulls decide to go a different direction on draft night, no matter what kind of previous discussions his agent may have had with the front office.

At this point in the pre-draft process, a "promise" can only be seen as a team's legitimate interest in a given player and an indicator of how the first round is likely to play out. But a lot can and will change before Phoenix goes on the clock on June 21.

Combine notes

Since most of the projected first round picks do little or nothing at the combine, it's left to the second-round guys to try to improve their draft stock with a strong showing in the scrimmage games. Last year, it was Kyle Kuzma working his way into the first round with a dazzling performance at the combine, and this year, the big winner might be Villanova shooting guard Donte DiVincenzo.

The NCAA Tournament hero impressed everyone with his athleticism on both ends and his ability to knock down open shots. DiVincenzo told me his 31-point performance in the title game against Michigan convinced him he had what it takes to apply for early entry, and his strong showing last week probably convinced him to hire an agent and remain in the draft.

Much like Kuzma, DiVincenzo had been projected as a likely second-round pick before the combine. Now he's looked at as a probable first rounder, going somewhere in the 20-30 range, which means he's likely headed to a good team that can ease his transition to the pro game. Not bad for a guy who came off the bench most of the season for the eventual NCAA champs and probably never imagined he would be leaving early for the NBA until that magical night in San Antonio.

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Other players who improved their draft stock last week include USC combo guard De’Anthony Melton, Maryland swingman Kevin Huerter, Tulane shooting guard Melvin Frazier, Cincinnati swingman Jacob Evans and another Villanova product, point guard Jalen Brunson.

Brunson didn't play in the scrimmages in Chicago, but he showed well in the physical testing, displaying the kind of athleticism every team is looking for at the point guard position. It looks like Brunson will definitely be a first round pick.

Similar story for Evans, who averaged a modest 13 points a game for a top 10 Cincinnati team, but impressed the NBA execs at the combine with his tenacious defensive play and offensive potential. Evans could be a possibility for the Bulls at 22.

Maryland's Huerter showed scouts he's more than just a standstill 3-point shooter. The 6-foot-6 sophomore averaged just under 15 points a game last season, shooting almost 42 percent from 3-point range. Huerter's solid play at the combine gives him a chance to be drafted at the end of Round 1.

Frazier also showed enough in games last week to have his name called among the top 30 picks. At 6-foot-6, he has excellent size at the shooting guard position. Frazier averaged just under 16 points a game during his junior season at Tulane, shooting almost 56 percent from the field.

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But the most interesting story involves Melton, who was held out by USC last season because of his connection to the FBI's investigation of corruption in college basketball. Melton maintained his innocence all along, and said the university was just doing what it had to do, fearing additional trouble with the NCAA over allegations a friend of Melton's had accepted money to try to steer Melton to an agent.

Still, even without playing competitively last season, Melton probably cemented a first round selection with his play at the combine. The 6-foot-4 combo guard flashed on both ends, scoring 15 points in a game last Friday playing alongside DiVincenzo in the backcourt.

Melton told USA Today he compares himself to other two-way standouts like Dwyane Wade, Kawhi Leonard and Avery Bradley. That's some pretty impressive company. Melton might be worth the investment of that No. 22 pick by the Bulls.

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Kudos to all the players who took part in the two days of media interviews last week. Almost all of them came off poised and well prepared. Among the top ten picks, I was especially impressed with Michael Porter Jr., who patiently answered all the questions about his back surgery and confidently said he considered himself the best player in the draft without sounding cocky.

Of course, Jaren Jackson Jr. and Trae Young also proclaimed themselves the best player in the draft, and projected top 10 picks Mo Bamba, Wendell Carter Jr. and Collin Sexton also came across as supremely confident.

The latest Basketball Insiders Mock Draft has the Bulls taking Bamba at 7 and Chandler Hutchison at 22, which would make the front office and a lot of Bulls fans very happy. But just to show you the wide range in how draft experts are evaluating the top prospects, Basketball Insiders currently has Jackson Jr. going 11 to Charlotte, and it's hard for me to imagine him staying on the board past four.

Brace yourself for all kinds of wild speculation over the next four weeks.

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Finally, May 22 turned out to be quite a day for Lauri Markkanen. Not only is Markkanen celebrating his 21st birthday, but he found out he was voted to the NBA's All-Rookie first team after averaging 15.2 points and 7.5 rebounds.

Markkanen joined Ben Simmons, Donovan Mitchell, Jayson Tatum and Kyle Kuzma from the extremely talented 2017-18 rookie class.

And the second team isn't bad either with Dennis Smith Jr., Lonzo Ball, Josh Jackson, John Collins and Bogdan Bogdanovic.

Given Markkanen's talent and work ethic, it's very easy to see him making multiple All-Star Game appearances down the line. The Bulls can only hope they come up with another foundation player like Markkanen when they draft seventh for the second year in a row.