Ask Sam Mailbag: Questions about PG prospects in the 2020 NBA Draft, possibly trading back, and Billy Donovan.

Kurt Payne:

Could you list the dates when things are supposed to happen like:
When teams offer their players their qualifying offers and how long do players have to decide?
When players can take their player option or decline?
When can teams start making trades?
I guess the draft is November 18. What is this draft camp going to look like?

Sam Smith:

I don't know, I don't know, I don't know; the NBA tells me they're not sure.

Draft camp? Innovative. Actually every date including the start of next season seems uncertain. We should have plenty of spare time Christmas Day. I was told Sunday night from the NBA after Miami's win and Jimmy Butler leading Miami to the Finals—no, I didn't see him in that position, but Minnesota and Philadelphia didn't, either, I guess—not even to count on that November 18 draft date. Like Don Nelson always used to say during the run up to a playoff spot, "If we make it I assume the NBA will tell us and where we will be playing."

Monday begins the virtual draft combine, which sounds confusing. The league is having several players do Zoom interviews early this week. So we should hear from LaMelo, Deni, Killian, et al. At least we probably won't have to ask which city they are visiting. I couldn't figure out all the NBA's Combine plans, which the league called innovative. I'll take their word for it. It sounds like players will do testing and interviews by video from the NBA team facility closest to their home. The trick will be figuring out which ones aren't sending in video game avatars. I'm still trying to figure out which NBA city that is for Avdija. There will also be what the NBA terms a pro day video, though it's uncertain whether that also can be used as a Dancing with the Stars audition tape. The NBA official media release stated the draft is Nov. 18, though I've also been told to keep that in pencil for now. But my point broke and I can't figure out what I wrote.

Javonte Abrams:

With the growing consensus amongst Bulls fans, draft analysts, and media personnel alike, it seems that the Bulls will draft Deni Avdija 4th overall in this year's draft. If not him, potentially Isaac Okoro, or even Killian Hayes. In spite of those repetitive scenarios, I wanted to shed light on another lottery prospect who I really like in this year's draft, and believe to be a nice piece for the Bulls, Tyrese Haliburton.

Despite him being a point guard, I feel he is a valuable asset with much to add to this Bulls team. Much like if LaMelo Ball were to still be on the board at fourth, it'd be a no brainer to most, for the Bulls to select him. With that being said, I don't see how selecting arguably the second-best, if not the best overall point guard in the draft while he's still on the board, would prove to be a bad choice for the Bulls. Although this might seem to be coming at an unfortunate time, being that Coby has stated that he would like to be the Bulls' starting PG next season. I think having a more offensive-minded lineup with Haliburton, White, Lavine, Markkanen, and Carter could prove to align with the vision of Karnisovas' ideal style of play given its potential for fast-paced offense and good ball movement with the addition of Haliburton's natural knack for passing, along with his non-ball dominant play style and unselfish demeanor. Haliburton could also prove useful as a spark plug off the bench. Do you feel that Haliburton fits with this Bulls roster? If so, do you think they'd draft him 4th overall?

Sam Smith:

The unusual and innovative, as the NBA might say, factor about this draft is how many different players I've seen those "experts" suggest as the potential No. 1 pick. I've seen Haliburton there as well as the other top point guards, Ball and Hayes. I've seen mock drafts (which usually come from the consensus of scouts or the imagination of draftniks) that have had Edwards on top, or Wiseman or Toppin. I saw one with Okongwu. Another had some Duke guard in the top five who isn't in the top 60 in another. Which means either it's a deeper draft than we think or one with four busts among the top six picks. So be careful.

I've read where the Warriors at No. 2 do like Haliburton and believe they could trade down to get him. Or maybe even take him there as a player who fits with their passing and movement philosophy. Bulls executive Arturas Karnisovas has talked about perhaps a dozen top players from this draft, leaving us I'm sure in mystery right up to the selection. If the Bulls do select a point guard there's no way, to me, White doesn't begin next season as the starter. Young point guards, especially, take time to develop. Though Billy Donovan did nice work last season with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. OK, having Chris Paul around helps. Haliburton checks a lot boxes for size, passing, shooting and the ability to play multiple positions. Miami seems to have found some interesting young players outside the top five. It doesn't seem like it would be a stretch for Haliburton to be in that top four. He seems like less potential star and less potential bust.

Will Pennix:

It would appear that many "experts" believe the Bulls are looking at drafting a PG. If Ball falls to them at #4 that seems to be the likely pick. I have my doubts about Ball as a future star. Hayes seems to be the next logical choice (I feel his game has more potential than Haliburton). If the Bulls have strong interest in Ball what would it take to trade up with say GS for the #2 pick? Would the #4 pick and either Valentine or Hutchinson (both former 1st rd picks) be enough for a deal? If the Bulls feel Hayes has the abilities they desire and can trade down to say #7 with Detroit, assume Hayes falls to #7, what would a package from Detroit look like for the #4 pick? Would swapping picks and Bulls get a conditional future 1st round pick be enough?

Sam Smith:

There's going to be plenty of in the eye of the beholder stuff from this draft with team preferences varying. It was Plato who came up with that view. Though since Plato is credited with metaphysical philosophy with a questionable basis in reality he might have been discussing the Knicks draft prospects.

I doubt Golden State would have any interest in a ball dominant Ball. Which makes Ball a tough decision. The New York media talk has been Knicks interest. But a poor shooting, lackadaisical defender doesn't sound like Thibs' desires regarding time and space. Ball is regarded as a showman and remarkable passer, though you'd also need a team to turn the ball over to him, as it were. Charlotte? Michael could use an attraction. Ball could fall to No. 4 and the Bulls. Attendance magnet? Hey, when can fans come in? The Pistons at No. 7 are said to be interested in a developmental point guard to learn from Derrick Rose. But so are the Wizards with John Wall hobbling back to work. A team would have to see a substantial difference to one player to trade up by giving up a player or a future pick. I suspect it's possible in this draft given the variance in opinion. Karnisovas has a history with Denver, which has traded down several times in recent drafts. I really don't see enough value in this draft for three or four spots up to add a future first round pick. No Lukas here.

Kirk Landers:

What will the Donovan hiring mean in terms of the Bulls' draft strategy? With a passel of young players already on the roster, might they be more willing than ever to trade #4 for a solid veteran? Or maybe to move down and take Okungwu or Vassell as insurance, should injury woes continue to plague their front line in return for a 2021 draft choice?

Sam Smith:

Donovan had playoff talented rosters pretty much every season in Oklahoma City until last, though we all thought Chris Paul was done. Not so, as it turned out. But Donovan was a college coach for two decades and probably welcomes young talent. Though given the selection—and the run of a team like the Heat and lack of a dominant East team—it seems more like Karnisovas believes the Bulls could be more competitive more quickly than many anticipate. The question with the solid veteran thing is they have several in Porter, Young and Satoransky. I can see trading down for the insurance for multiple players. Remember, this is a completely new set of eyes and ideals with a roster of players none of them have selected. Change seems the only constant thus far.

Longgiang Le:

Sounds like there is interest in Deni in Golden State with the #2 pick.

Sam Smith:

Most are guessing if there's a trade down to occur, it will be with the Warriors because they have a set lineup and are the most likely to be looking for a veteran to extend the Curry/Thompson window. If I were them I might go for someone like Wiseman to extend their competitiveness this decade. He's someone coach Steve Kerr seemingly could use in limited role now for defense. More seem to think they'll go hunting for a player in the seven to 10 range and a future draft pick even if I don't believe the talent is worth that. But it only takes one.

Ryan Carpel:

Killian Hayes looks similar to Spencer Dinwiddie and Kirk Hinrich. Aaron Nesmith looks like a young donavan Mitchell. I would draft him at 4. Saddiq Bey looks like a Jimmy Butler. Would be in lineup right away at SF. This is who we need.

Sam Smith:

Perhaps cash in Zach, Coby and Lauri for picks? I know there's excitement about seeing these prospects in their highlight videos in which, curiously, they rarely miss a shot or pass. It's amazing they happen to be filming when the guys are playing so well. Nesmith's shooting is impressive, and Tyler Herro's rookie playoff play suggests it's possible with shooting. After all, few believed No. 30 pick Butler ever could reach the level of a player like Bey. As for Hayes, he seems more French than those guys.

Brodie Larsh:

I think trading back seems like the best bet for the Bulls. As most of the wings seem to be going in the late lottery. Trading the 4th for Kevin Knox and drafting say Aaron Nesmith (pure shooter) sounds good to me, but maybe I just need better convincing that Deni Avdija is worth the 4th. We'd have Coby, Zach, Otto, Lauri, and ‘Dell starting with Sato, Nesmith, Knox, Thad and Gafford backing them up. Seems solid/balanced all around. Lacking defense outside the center position though.

Sam Smith:

Perhaps they're tired of the Knox/Knix back page mentions in New York. The Knicks come up in most of these scenarios because, well, they're the Knicks and no one ever knows. But I do believe they'll finally develop some stability and Thibs will help make it at least look more professional. They seem to have too little to give up too much in this draft. The big question the Bulls will begin to have is with your lineups, which sound appealing, there's not much defense. How much will Karnsiovas want to remake the team to balance the offense and defense? Will he just use this next season to analyze? Or now that he has Donovan combine the players more readily to pursue vast immediate improvement? Like moving on from the Bulls "trubitskys" reasonably early? The draft should begin to provide some hints whenever that may be.