Schanowski: Bulls still looking to trade out of Draft

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Schanowski: Bulls still looking to trade out of Draft

Tuesday, June 22, 2010
6:18 PM
By Mark Schanowski
CSNChicago.com

If everything goes according to plan, the Bulls wont be picking any players in Thursdays NBA Draft. John Paxson and Gar Forman are hard at work trying to package the number 17 pick along with one of their veteran players to create more cap room for the free agent chase that starts on July 1st. It will be difficult for the Bulls to find a taker for the four years, and approximately 48 million remaining on Luol Dengs contract, but Kirk Hinrich might be attractive since he only has two years left on his deal. Do you think the Bulls should try to unload their pick, or is it important to find a young player who can add some depth off the bench? Please post your comments in the section below.

If the Bulls wind up keeping the pick, and Forman has made it clear theyre not looking to trade it unless it can be packaged with a veteran player, look for them to take the best shooter available. My prediction is they will go with Oklahoma State shooting guard James Anderson, who averaged 22 points a game last season, and is considered one of the best long range shooters available in this draft. The knock on Anderson is that hes not a great athlete, and might have trouble creating his own shot at the NBA level. But with Derrick Rose consistently driving into the paint to break down opposing defenses, Anderson could find all kinds of wide open shots on the perimeter. Hinrich and John Salmons struggled to make those open shots during the first few months of last season, and thats one of the main reasons the Bulls got off to a slow start.

If its not Anderson, the list of available shooting guards includes Dominique Jones of South Florida, Avery Bradley of Texas and Elliott Williams of Memphis. The Bulls also could go for a project big man like Marshalls Hassan Whiteside or Solomon Alabi of Florida State. But with 7-foot Omer Asik expected to join the squad this year, a 2nd developmental big might not be such a great idea. Reports from overseas indicate Asik is a pretty athletic center, who possesses some legitimate low post skills. The Bulls traded three second-round draft picks to obtain his rights in the 08 draft, and theyve been looking forward to his arrival to back up Joakim Noah. And, dont rule out the possibility of Brad Miller coming back if hes willing to sign on for the veterans minimum.

Any way you look at it, draft night figures to be more interesting because of potential trades than because of the talent pool available. My partner on our Bulls studio coverage, Kendall Gill, will be with me at the Berto Center Thursday night, and well have complete coverage on SportsNite at 6:30pm, 10pm, 10:30pm and midnight, as well as a live chat and more coverage on CSNChicago.com.

Speaking of trades, here are some of the suggestions you sent me since my last post.

Charlie C-Glenview, IL: Mark, people keep talking about the Bulls packaging their first-round pick and a guy like Hinrich or Deng to have enough cap space for two maximum contracts. On paper that sounds great, but what if we trade Deng or Hinrich and miss out on LeBron, Bosh, Wade, etc. all together?

That is the risk the Bulls have to be willing to take, and all indications are they will go all-in with hopes of landing two premier free agents. Even trading Hinrich wouldnt give them the ability to sign two max free agents, but it would allow them to do a sign-and-trade for players like Chris Bosh or Joe Johnson by just trading a lower salaried player like Taj Gibson or James Johnson, plus some future draft picks if a team was looking for salary cap relief rather than a high-priced veteran like Deng. Obviously, if the Bulls gut their roster and dont get any of the top free agents, theyre probably headed back to the lottery next season. But as I said, Bulls management is very confident they will get at least one of the top players this summer.

Matt S-Cicero, IL: What if the Bulls packaged Deng, Taj, and a first round pick in a sign-and-trade for LeBron? I dont see Cleveland letting LeBron go without some sort of compensation, and it also would guarantee the Bulls were giving up key players for a reason. That trade would give the Bulls enough cap room to offer another max contract. What are your thoughts?
Sounds like a great plan to me, but I dont know if Cleveland would be willing to trade LeBron within the Eastern Conference. If they eventually agree to a sign-and-trade, my guess is theyll make sure to get him out of the East, and send him to a team with lots of young talent to send back like Portland, Houston or Oklahoma City. Dallas will also try to get involved, but Im not sure if Cleveland would want the veteran players the Cavs would likely try to include in a deal. But from the Bulls perspective, if they could get LeBron in a sign-and-trade, you can bet theyd have their pick of Bosh, Johnson or Carlos Boozer with their remaining cap room.
Ted G-Chicago, IL: Getting a scoring guard like Monta Ellis via trade would be great for the Bulls, but his size and defensive ability may be a risk. Ellis also played for one of the worst defensive teams in the Golden State Warriors last season. How can the defensive guru Tom Thibedou help a guy like Ellis or any other defensively challenged shooting guard?

Thibodeau gets rave reviews from players who have worked under him for his creativity and defensive strategy. The Bulls are hoping he can do wonders with Derrick Rose, who hasnt really developed on the defensive end in his first two NBA seasons. Boston did a great job defending Kobe Bryant in the Finals, and a lot of credit should go to Thibodeau. He constantly double and triple teamed Kobe to get the ball out of his hands and force other players to beat the Celtics. How many times in the last two years have the Bulls been dominated by the other teams star player or been unable to defend basic screen and roll plays? Thibodeau should bring a defensive emphasis that will extend from the best player on the team to the last guy on the bench. And, if the Bulls would trade for a defensively challenged guy like Monta Ellis, he would have to work within the system to avoid being the weak link. Look for the Bulls to be a much stronger defensive team next season.
Meredith H-Aurora, IL: How much do veterans like Ray Allen and Rip Hamilton have left? Allen will be 35 next season, and Hamilton 32 going on 33 both were once the best players on their respective teams but now they are role players at best. As a fan I would love to see the Bulls keep their core young, but talented. Going after guys like West and Jefferson would seem to make more sense to go along with guys like Rose, Noah, and Deng who are all at least four years away from 30. Not to mention the possibility of signing the 25-year-old LeBron James.

I was just suggesting guys like Allen and Hamilton should be available this season, and still have the ability to score between 15 and 18 points a game. Realistically, neither of those players probably interest the Bulls at this point. Their dream scenario would be adding LeBron and Chris Bosh through free agency and sign-and-trade, but there are about a half dozen other teams that have the same plan. Recruiting will be everything since every team is offering the same money. Organizations will have to sell their ability to win with the talent on hand, the city they represent, and earning capability off the court. And, it sounds like LeBron might take a week to tour the country and soak in all the adulation. Im hoping hell make up his mind quickly, but it might not turn out that way. And, if the Bulls dont get the guys they want in free agency, then the possibility of trading for young, fringe all-star players like David West, Al Jefferson, Andre Iguodala, Caron Butler and Lamar Odom may come into play. It promises to be a crazy week when the clock strikes midnight on June 30th. Lets hope the Bulls have the right strategy to accomplish all their goals!

Bulls Talk Podcast: Will Celtics trade for Jimmy Butler?

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Bulls Talk Podcast: Will Celtics trade for Jimmy Butler?

On the latest edition of the Bulls Talk Podcast, Kevin Anderson, Vincent Goodwill and Kendall Gill welcome in SB Nation's Ricky O'Donnell to discuss the Celtics' motivation to trade for Jimmy Butler. 

The guys also break down whether the league is undervaluing the Bulls All-Star. 

Later, they debate the contant Lebron James vs. Michael Jordan comparison and ask if it's fair after the King's poor showing in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals. O'Donnell also analyzes the NBA Draft. He believes Terrance Ferguson is the right pick for GarPax. 

Finally, a behind the scenes look at Goodwill vs. Kendall on the court, and Kendall on the right way to parent a young athlete. 

Listen to the Bulls Talk Podcast below. 

NBA Buzz: Financial and competitive realities could lead to Jimmy Butler trade for Bulls

NBA Buzz: Financial and competitive realities could lead to Jimmy Butler trade for Bulls

Watching LeBron James tear through the Eastern Conference playoffs the way Michael Jordan used to do in his prime, it's become increasingly apparent other teams in the East will be chasing James and the Cavaliers for the next 3-5 years.

With that in mind, you have to wonder what kind of conversations are going on inside the walls of the Advocate Center as the Bulls' front office prepares for the June 22nd draft and the start of free agency on July 1st. 

Jimmy Butler earned third-team All-NBA honors on Thursday, putting him in position to earn the Designated Veteran Player Extension with another All-NBA selection in either 2018 or 2019. Under terms of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, that could mean a contract starting at $42 million in 2019-20 with a total five-year value of over $246 million.

Are the Bulls prepared to pay that kind of money to a player who has logged big minutes over his career and will turn 30 just before the 2019-20 season?

If not, the best time to deal Butler would be right now. Butler is coming off the best season of his NBA career, including a starting spot for the Eastern Conference in the All-Star game. Plus, he still has two more guaranteed years on his contract at far below market value for one of the top 15 players in the league.

Tuesday's draft lottery pretty much eliminated Boston from a potential Butler trade. Celtics' GM Danny Ainge loves Washington point guard Markelle Fultz and is locked in to drafting him with the number one pick. Boston's future couldn't look brighter after finishing with the best regular season record in the East, advancing to the Conference Finals, and winning the lottery.

The Celtics will add Fultz and still have enough cap room to offer a max deal to free agent swingman Gordon Hayward, who played collegiately for Boston coach Brad Stevens at Butler. How does a starting line-up of Isaiah Thomas, Al Horford, Hayward, Jae Crowder and Avery Bradley sound, with a second unit of Fultz, Terry Rozier, Marcus Smart, Jaylen Brown and Kelly Olynyk? It might not be good enough to take down the Cavs or Warriors, but should position the Celtics for a long run as a serious contender.

So, if the Celtics are out, where would the Bulls look for a possible Butler deal? Phoenix probably holds the best combination of assets, starting with the No. 4 overall pick. If point guards Fultz, Lonzo Ball and De'Aaron Fox go 1-2-3, the Bulls could grab Kansas forward Josh Jackson, an Andrew Wiggins-clone who could wind up being the best player in this draft.

The Suns also have a pair of intriguing young power forwards in Marquese Chriss and Dragan Bender, both top 10 picks a year ago. Plus, Phoenix could include 23-year-old small forward T.J. Warren and Chicago native Tyler Ulis in the package going back to the Bulls.

Suns GM Ryan McDonough is reportedly under pressure to show significant improvement next season after winning just 47 games combined over the last two years. Adding another young player to the roster isn't the best way to improve the team immediately, so don't be surprised if the Suns make a pitch to acquire Butler in the days leading up to the draft.

Similar story in Philadelphia, where the Sixers own the third overall pick next month. Under former GM Sam Hinkie, the "trust the process" approach led to a roster purge and the acquisition of lottery picks. Right now, the Sixers are overloaded with young players like Joel Embiid, Jahlil Okafor, Ben Simmons, Dario Saric, Justin Anderson and Nik Stauskas.

Would current GM Bryan Colangelo be willing to trade the pick, along with Okafor and Anderson in a package for Butler? The Bulls could choose between Jackson and Kentucky's lightning-quick point guard Fox with the draft pick they’d acquire, potentially adding three young starters to a new-look line-up. 

Given all the trade rumors surrounding Butler in the past, you can expect a number of teams will be calling the Bulls leading up to the draft, including Tom Thibodeau's Timberwolves, coming off a disappointing season with assets to offer like Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn and the seventh overall pick. 

Ultimately, it comes down to which direction the Bulls' front office wants to go. Try to build a contender around Butler, or use him as the trade asset to start a full re-build. We should get our answer in the days leading up to the draft.

Around the Association

Thursday's All-NBA announcement could lead to a pair of All-Star forwards changing teams this summer. We already mentioned Hayward's situation in Utah. Without the designated veteran player extension, he might be seriously tempted to join his old college coach in Boston. 

Hayward could sign a one year contract with a player option for a second season in Utah with hopes of earning the DVPE next summer, but if Hayward hits the open market, it's clear he'll be the number one target for the Celtics this off-season. 

Paul George also could be in play after failing to make one of the three All-NBA teams. The Pacers were hoping to sign their All-Star forward to a max five-year extension at over $200 million, but George isn't eligible now. George still could sign an extension with Indiana, but not at the dollars he would have received had he made All-NBA. 

Rumors of George's desire to join his home-state Lakers in free agency after the 2017-18 season continue to grow, especially with Magic Johnson likely to add dynamic point guard Lonzo Ball in next month's draft. The Pacers might be forced to trade George to get some assets now, rather than let him walk away for nothing in free agency next summer.

Back to the Bulls, who will bring in dozens of prospects to Chicago to work out at the Advocate Center before the draft. Unless they make a major trade to move up, the front office almost has to go "best player available" with their picks at Nos. 16 and 38. Look for them to focus on an athletic wing in the first round with Louisville's Donovan Mitchell, Indiana's OG Anunoby, Duke's Harry Giles and Australian pro Terrance Ferguson among the likely options. 

But if the team decides to part company with restricted free agent Niko Mirotic, that could open the door for the Bulls to select a power forward like Cal's Ivan Rabb, Wake Forest's John Collins, Utah's Kyle Kuzma or UCLA's T.J. Leaf. They could even draft an athletic young center like Jarrett Allen of Texas, Creighton's Justin Patton or UCLA's Ike Anigbogu.

In Round 2, the Bulls might look to add another young point guard to the mix like Oklahoma State's Jawun Evans, Iowa State's Monte Morris, Villanova's Josh Hart, Gonzaga's Nigel Williams Goss or Big 12 Player of the Year Frank Mason from Kansas.

Quotes of the Week

The Celtics might have edged Cleveland out for the top seed in the East during the regular season, but after watching Game 1 Wednesday night, it's clear Brad Stevens’ team will be lucky to get a win in the series.

This from Stevens about the NBA's version of Benjamin Button, LeBron James. "It's hard to believe, but he's better than when I got into the league. A lot better."

Still, Celtics' star Isaiah Thomas isn't about to concede the series just yet, saying, "We're not afraid of Cleveland. They're not the Monstars."  

Well, Thomas might be right about the rest of the Cavs. But if you remember the movie "Space Jam", I'm pretty sure James would be a good fit in that Monstars line-up. And the Celtics don't have Michael Jordan, Bugs Bunny or Bill Murray!