Five Things to Watch: Bulls visit Wizards on CSN

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Five Things to Watch: Bulls visit Wizards on CSN

Watch as the Bulls take on the Wizards on Friday night on CSN and streaming live on CSNChicago.com. Coverage begins at 5:30 p.m. with Bulls Pregame Live. Then stick around after the final buzzer to watch Bulls Postgame Live for highlights and analysis.

Click here to watch the game or download the NBC Sports App, your home for live streaming coverage of the Bulls.

FIVE THINGS TO WATCH

1. Beat another good team? The Bulls have nearly identical records against teams above .500 and below .500. Entering Friday's game in D.C., the Bulls are 15-17 against teams with winning records and 17-19 against teams with losing records. The Wizards are 41-26 so that means... nothing?

2. Life without Wade. Dwyane Wade has already missed games this season, but now the Bulls know he won't be back for the rest of the regular season. Wade's absence is a blow to the Bulls' flickering playoff hopes. Knowing the future Hall of Famer won't be in the lineup means there could be more minutes for the likes of Denzel Valentine.

3. Final meeting with the Wizards. The Bulls won the first meeting with the Wizards this season, a 106-95 win in November at the United Center. Jimmy Butler scored 37 points in that one. The Wizards won the next two, a 107-97 road win in December and a 101-99 home win in January when Butler and Wade both sat out.

4. Time to turn things around. Since winning five out of six, a run which featured wins against Toronto, Boston, Cleveland and Golden State, to bring their record to 31-30, the Bulls have slumped badly. The Bulls have lost six of seven to cancel out the good run. Playing at a team which is currently third in the Eastern Conference isn't exactly a recipe for a slump buster, but the Bulls need wins to get back in the playoff hunt.

5. Surging Wizards. Since a slow start to the season the Wizards have been one of the hottest teams in the NBA. The Wizards were 16-18, but won 23 of the next 29 games to rise up the conference standings. Heading into Friday's game, however, the Wizards have lost two in a row. It's just the third time in 2017 the Wizards have lost consecutive games. The Wizards haven't lose three in a row since November, a streak that included a loss to the Bulls.

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Bulls Talk Podcast: Gar Forman defends Jimmy Butler trade

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AP

Bulls Talk Podcast: Gar Forman defends Jimmy Butler trade

On the latest Bulls Talk Podcast, Mark Schanowski, Will Perdue and Vincent Goodwill recap the Bulls' busy NBA Draft and the decision to trade Jimmy Butler to Minnesota. 

Bulls general manager Gar Forman joins the panel for an exclusive interview. He breaks down why the organization decided to move the three-time All-Star. 

Click here to Bulls Talk Podcast.

Nikola Mirotic and why the Bulls traded their second-round pick

Nikola Mirotic and why the Bulls traded their second-round pick

The Bulls entered rebuild mode on Thursday night after they dealt Jimmy Butler to the Minnesota Timberwolves. They acquired a pair of guards in Zach LaVine and Kris Dunn, and the No. 7 pick which they used to select Arizona power forward Lauri Markkanen.

But the Bulls opted not to continue adding youth to their roster when they sold their second-round pick, No. 38 overall, to the Golden State Warriors. That pick was Oregon power forward Jordan Bell, who many considered a late first-round prospect.

The move was perplexing for a team that hours earlier had traded away its franchise player to start a youth movement. But VP John Paxson said after the draft that the decision to move the pick was based on team depth, hinting at a significant move the Bulls will make in free agency.

"We had some wings on our board that we had targeted that were the only way we were going to keep that (No. 38) pick, and they went before us. And drafting Lauri (Markkanen), and the fact that we have, Niko’s a restricted free agent we intend to bring back, Bobby Portis, we didn’t want to add another big and that’s really all that was left on our board."

Both Paxson and general manager Gar Forman have said since the season ended that Mirotic, who will become a restricted free agent on July 1, is part of their future plans. The Bulls will be able to match any contract that another team offers Mirotic, and they intend to keep the 26-year-old in Chicago. After Butler's departure, Mirotic is now the longest tenured member of the Bulls. He's been with the team for three seasons.

The wings Paxson may have been referring to include Miami's Devon Reed (32nd overall to Phoenix), Kansas State's Wesley Iwundu (33rd overall to Orlando) or SMU's Semi Ojeleye (Boston, 37th overall). Point guards Juwan Evans (Oklahoma State) and Sterling Brown (SMU) were still on the board and potential options, but the Bulls were set on looking for wing help after receiving point guard Kris Dunn and shooting guard Zach LaVine in the Butler trade.

The Bulls frontcourt depth looks filled, as Cristiano Felicio is expected to return behind Robin Lopez. Mirotic, Portis, Markkanen and Joffrey Lauvergne should make up the power forward depth chart. Opting against using the 38th pick, which Golden State bought for a whopping $3.5 million, also leaves the Bulls with room to add a 13th player in the fall.

"It keeps us at 12 roster spots and gives us real flexibility for our roster," Paxson said. "So we didn’t just want to use up a roster spot on a player that we probably wouldn’t have kept."