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NBA Mock Draft: Bulls unlikely to get immediate help at No. 22

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NBA Mock Draft: Bulls unlikely to get immediate help at No. 22

With the Bulls only holding one selection in the upcoming draft, there isn’t much of a chance to grab a rotation player on June 25. Still, Gar Forman and his scouting staff can add a developmental player with the No. 22 overall pick, who will eventually earn minutes under new coach Fred Hoiberg. And, given the Bulls’ success with late first round picks like Jimmy Butler, Taj Gibson and Nikola Mirotic, you have to like their chances.

Here’s an early look at how draft night might play out.

1. Timberwolves: Karl-Anthony Towns, C/PF, Kentucky

Minnesota is reportedly split right now with head coach and President of Basketball Operations Flip Saunders wanting Duke product Jahlil Okafor and other members of the front office preferring Towns. The guess here is Towns will eventually win out because of his superior athleticism and ability to play the power forward spot. Minnesota already has a highly-paid center in the often-injured Nikola Pekovic, but he could be a trade candidate.

2. Lakers: Jahlil Okafor, C, Duke

The Lakers are desperate for size and inside scoring, and Okafor should be able to provide both. Kobe Bryant is expected to return from shoulder surgery and will remain the focal point of the offense, but the addition of Okafor and last year’s lottery pick, Julius Randle, should give the Lakers some hope for the future.

[MORE NBA DRAFT: Looney's rebounding could prove useful to Bulls]

3. 76ers: D’Angelo Russell, SG/PG, Ohio State

Philly has stocked up on young bigs in recent drafts with Nerlens Noel, Joel Embiid and European prospect Dario Saric. Adding a dynamic playmaker with good size like Russell should help jump-start their rebuilding program.

4. Knicks: Emmanuel Mudiay, PG, China

No team was more disappointed on draft night than the Knicks, who dropped from second to fourth overall. Phil Jackson was hoping to add one of the young centers to his triangle offense, now he’ll probably have to settle for an unproven point guard who played in China last season, instead of going to SMU to play for Larry Brown like he originally planned. Mudiay is said to be a tremendous talent, but is he the right fit in New York? Jackson might decide to take the safer route and go with Duke small forward Justice Winslow instead.

5. Magic: Justice Winslow, SF, Duke

Orlando GM Rob Henigan is quietly putting together a nice roster in Central Florida for new coach Scott Skiles. Winslow would be a good fit at the small forward spot, especially if Tobias Harris leaves in free agency. The Magic have already drafted or traded for impressive young talents like Victor Oladipo, NIk Vucevic, Elfrid Payton and Aaron Gordon. 

6. Kings: Kristaps Porzingis, PF, Spain

Hard to tell what Sacramento might do here. They really need a point guard, but Murray State’s Cameron Payne would be a reach this high. Kings have All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins up front, but Porzingis could be a complement to Boogie with his ability to shoot from the outside.

7. Nuggets: Trey Lyles, PF, Kentucky

Another mismatched roster with too many wing players and not enough size. Lyles might have been the most underused talent on that Kentucky roster last season, but scouts love his inside-outside potential. 

[NBA DRAFT: Check out all our NBA Draft player profiles]

8. Pistons: Stanley Johnson, SF, Arizona

Stan Van Gundy is still trying to sort out his roster, and it’s very likely the Pistons will lose Greg Monroe in free agency. Johnson only played one season at Arizona, but he’s one of the few players in this draft with real star potential, so Van Gundy might swing for the fences here.

9. Hornets: Mario Hezonja, SG, Spain

Okay, I’ve never seen the guy play, but scouts seem to love him, and Charlotte is one of the worst shooting teams in the NBA. The Lance Stephenson experiment failed miserably and Gerald Henderson could be leaving in free agency, so this is a position of need for Michael Jordan’s team. 

10. Heat: Devin Booker, SG, Kentucky

Make it three Kentucky players in the Top 10. Booker didn’t get a chance to fully showcase his talents with John Calipari playing 10 guys on a regular basis, but scouts love his shooting ability, and think he has potential to score off the dribble. Good insurance for Miami in case Dwyane Wade is serious about opting out of his contract in search of a max deal.

11. Pacers: Willie Cauley-Stein, C, Kentucky

Make it four of the first 11 for the Wildcats. Cauley-Stein is a free spirit, who might raise a few red flags with NBA GM’s during the interview process. Not sure how French Lick native Larry Bird will react to Cauley-Stein’s quirkiness, but Bird can appreciate an agile big man with superior defensive skills. Cauley-Stein could play right away if Roy Hibbert leaves via free agency or trade.

12. Jazz: Sam Dekker, SF, Wisconsin

Another team that is putting together a good young roster. In case you missed it, Utah finished with a winning record after the All-Star break under first-year head coach Quin Snyder. The Jazz have a high lottery pick backcourt in Trey Burke and Dante Exum, a shot-blocking center in Rudy Gobert, and a veteran scorer in Gordon Hayward. Dekker would be a good fit with the capability to play both forward spots off the bench.

13. Suns: Frank Kaminsky, C/PF, Wisconsin

Back-to-back Badgers go off the board. Phoenix loves to shoot the three, and Kaminsky will fit right in, assuming he can make the transition from college center to NBA power forward. Given his tremendous success at Wisconsin, I wouldn’t bet against him.

[MORE NBA DRAFT: Experience the name of the game for Utah's Delon Wright]

14. Thunder: Cameron Payne, PG, Murray State

Oklahoma City point guard Russell Westbrook played at a near MVP level last season, but might he be even better at shooting guard alongside a true distributor like Payne? The 6-foot-2 Murray State star has been the talk of the pre-draft workout circuit, and may go even higher than this spot for another team looking to trade up.

15. Hawks: Myles Turner, C/PF, Texas

Another player who’s been impressive in pre-draft workouts after one less than sensational year in college. Most scouts project the 6-foot-11 Turner as an NBA power forward, and that’s an area of need for the three-point shooting Hawks, especially with Paul Millsap heading into free agency.

16. Celtics: Montrezl Harrell, PF, Louisville

As usual, Danny Ainge is armed with multiple draft picks and cap room, so he could go in a number of directions. Harrell was a preseason All-American a year ago, but kind of got lost on a dysfunctional Louisville team. A little undersized for an NBA power forward, but has a high motor like current Golden State overachiever Draymond Green.

17. Bucks: Jerian Grant, PG/SG, Notre Dame

Sure, the Bucks just traded for their point guard of the future in Michael Carter-Williams, but I’m guessing Jason Kidd wouldn’t mind having another big, versatile guard on his roster. Grant was the driving force behind Notre Dame’s run to the Elite 8, and could be an excellent swing guard in the pros.

18. Rockets: Tyus Jones, PG, Duke

The small, but explosive Jones came through big time in the NCAA tournament, helping Mike Krzyzewski win his fifth national title. Houston really missed injured point guard Patrick Beverley during the playoffs, and would be well-advised to add a young prospect like Jones. Really good value at this pick.

[MORE NBA DRAFT: Excitement builds over Sam Dekker's NBA potential]

19. Wizards: Bobby Portis, PF, Arkansas

Portis has been telling the media he’s the best power forward in the draft. Probably not accurate, but you have to appreciate his self-confidence. Washington really doesn’t have any major needs, but with Nene in and out of the lineup all season, another big man couldn’t hurt.

20. Raptors: Kevon Looney, PF, UCLA

Toronto has been unhappy with the production at the power forward spot from Amir Johnson and Tyler Hansbrough. Looney played just one season at UCLA, but he’s a very athletic big who could grab some minutes right away for the reigning Atlantic Division champs.

21. Mavericks: Delon Wright, PG, Utah

After the failed Rajon Rondo experiment, Dallas could be looking for a young point guard to develop behind the unimpressive trio of Devin Harris, J.J. Barea and Ray Felton. Wright is a four-year player at Utah with good size at 6-foot-5, who should be able to contribute right away.

22. BULLS: R.J. Hunter, SG, Georgia State

I think the Bulls would love to grab a young point guard like Grant, Jones or Wright to develop behind Derrick Rose, but with all three off the board, they might reach for a big-time shooter like Hunter, who was one of the stars of last spring’s NCAA tournament. Hoiberg wants to play a fast-paced, quick-strike offense, and fill the court with shooters, which would make Hunter a nice addition. A young developmental big is also a possibility here, maybe Syracuse’s Rakeem Christmas, Kentucky’s Dakari Johnson or Washington’s Robert Upshaw.

23. Blazers: Justin Anderson, SF, Virginia

Solid two-way player who excelled under a defense-first system at Virginia. Has the versatility to play either wing position, and might be a good fit for Portland with Wes Matthews coming off an Achilles injury and also heading into free agency.

[MORE NBA DRAFT: Cameron Payne wants to be NBA's next Stephen Curry]

24. Cavs: Rashad Vaughn, SG, UNLV

Averaged almost 18 points per game for the Runnin’ Rebels. Cleveland is pretty well stocked at most positions, and with most of the top point guards off the board, another shooter like Vaughn provides some insurance in case J.R. Smith decides to opt out of the final year of his contract.

25. Grizzlies: Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, SF, Arizona

Probably would have benefited from another year in college to work on his offensive game. Still, Hollis-Jefferson is an excellent perimeter defender who should fit in well with the Grizzlies culture.

26. Spurs: Rakeem Christmas, PF/C, Syracuse

Spurs could go with a European stash candidate to save some cap room for possible free agent moves. But if they decide to draft a player who could contribute next season, Christmas has performed well in workouts, and could learn behind perhaps the best power forward of all time in Tim Duncan.

27. Lakers: Kelly Oubre, SF, Kansas

Only played one uninspired season at Kansas and hasn’t looked all that good in team workouts. Still, scouts loved him coming out of high school, and maybe Bryant can light a fire under him in L.A.

28. Celtics: Christian Wood, PF, UNLV

Not a great athlete, but he can really shoot it. At this point of the draft, Boston could go in a number of directions, or even look to trade the pick.

[SHOP BULLS: Get your Bulls gear right here]

29. Nets: Terry Rozier, PG, Louisville

More of a scorer than a playmaker, but Brooklyn is looking for some youth at the position behind Deron Williams and Jarrett Jack. Rozier is also showing well in pre-draft workouts.

30. Warriors: Jordan Mickey, PF, LSU

Golden State is having great success with Green playing the power forward position at 6-foot-7, so why not add a similar multiple effort kind of player like the 6-foot-8 Mickey? Could also go for another shooter like Nebraska’s Terran Petteway or UCLA’S Norman Powell.

2018-19 NBA Power Rankings: Opening Week edition

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USA TODAY

2018-19 NBA Power Rankings: Opening Week edition

The theme of the 2018-19 NBA season will be: “old faces in new places”. Like a season-long game of the NBA on TNT crew’s “Who he play for?” game, this year will be about fans trying to get used to the idea of LeBron James in purple (I won’t call it ‘Forum Blue’)-and-gold, DeMarcus Cousins being on a championship-contending franchise and Kawhi Leonard being the new face of Toronto.

The Warriors are still the easy favorite to make it four NBA championships in five years, but they will be tested perhaps more than any year before in a loaded Western Conference, where even the lowliest of teams (here’s to you Phoenix and Memphis!) made solid offseason moves geared towards winning games.

Over in the now-LeBron-less East, there is hope amongst at least four-to-five teams that they could actually have a shot to win the conference. The Pacers still have budding superstar Victor Oladipo, the Sixers still have Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, and the Raptors and Bucks made head coaching changes that could lead to deep playoff runs. But with the rest of the Eastern conference being stuck between lottery contention and middle of the pack, expect the half-experienced, half-youthful Celtics to takeover as East juggernaut.

But whether or not your favorite franchise is aiming for a high draft pick or a postseason berth, there is tons to be excited in a 2018-19 NBA season that will surely be an intriguing one. Check out Week 1 of our NBA Power Rankings right here.

Deadline passes as Bulls, Bobby Portis fail to reach agreement on contract extension

Deadline passes as Bulls, Bobby Portis fail to reach agreement on contract extension

The Bulls and Bobby Portis were unable to reach an agreement on a contract extension by today’s deadline, which will make the power forward a restricted free agent next offseason.

According to The Chicago Tribune’s K.C. Johnson, Portis’ agent Mark Bartelstein and Gar Forman had “lengthy face-to-face negotiations” on Monday prior to the deadline. The two sides weren’t able to come to an agreement.

The negotiations – and lack of a deal – come after a summer and training camp in which Portis continued to show progression. After beginning the preseason coming off the bench Portis quickly played his way into the starting lineup alongside rookie Wendell Carter Jr. Portis finished five preseason games averaging 17.0 points, 5.8 rebounds and 1.2 steals in just 22.4 minutes.

Portis, the 22nd pick of the 2015 NBA Draft, has seen his role increase each of his three seasons. He made a jump last season in Year 3, averaging 13.2 points and 6.8 rebounds in 22.5 minutes. He was one of three players, including DeMarcus Cousins and Kevin Love, to average 21 points, 10 rebounds and 1.5 3-pointers per 36 minutes.

Though the Bulls certainly had the room to sign Portis to an extension, there were obvious reasons on both sides to wait on a deal. For starters, the Bulls will still be able to match any deal Portis receives in free agency next July, much like what happened with Zach LaVine and the Sacramento Kings. The Bulls maintain their abundance of cap space for the 2019 offseason, when they’ll be able to offer a max contract to the top-tier free agents, and they get to see if Portis makes another jump.

For Portis, it’s a case of him betting on himself. If the Bulls came in with a number he wasn’t satisfied with – to help keep their max cap space – he now finds himself on a contract year playing for his next contract. Still only 23 years old, Portis should cash in in July.

Two players from Portis’ draft class were able to cash in. Pacers center Myles Turner signed a reported four-year, $80 million extension and Cavaliers forward Larry Nance Jr. agreed to a four-year, $45 million deal. Portis likely would have fallen somewhere in between those two deals had an agreement occurred.

The Bulls are hardly in an easy situation with Portis. Though they value the versatile power forward, Lauri Markkanen is entrenched at the position for the foreseeable future and the team just spent last year’s No. 7 overall pick on center Wendell Carter Jr. Portis realistically is stuck behind both those players, though he certainly has starting level NBA talent.