The odds were not in the Bulls' favor during the NBA Draft Lottery on Tuesday night as Chicago's No. 8 pick was conveyed to the Orlando Magic. The Bulls now look towards offseason and free agency decisions.
The Bulls Tuesday experienced a chill, though not a draft. Because it seems like the Bulls are going to be frozen out of the first round of the 2021 NBA draft.
That's because the Bulls felt like the rest of us following the lottery drawing. Better luck next time.
The Bulls' approximately 20 percent chance of slipping into the top four in the 2021 draft and thus retaining their No. 1 draft pick this year was unsuccessful in the NBA's annual Draft Lottery drawing.
The Bulls traded their No. 1 draft selections in 2021 and 2023 last March for Orlando Magic All-Star center Nikola Vucevic. However, there was one proviso: If this year's selection fell in the top four, the Bulls would retain this year's pick and the Magic would get the Bulls' No. 1 draft picks for 2022 and 2024.
But the drawing held firm for the Bulls at No. 8, so the Bulls 2021 draft pick conveys to the Magic this season. Orlando also will have their own No. 5 draft pick. So now the Magic also get the Bulls No. 1 draft pick in 2023 without exceptions.
NBA Deputy Commissioner Mark Tatum revealing the Orlando Magic will select 8th in the 2021 NBA Draft, originally the Bulls' selection.
The Bulls will have their No. 1 draft pick next year in 2022. They also have a second round selection in this draft at No. 38. It's also possible the Bulls could trade into the first round this season with several teams having multiple first round picks.
Golden State, like Orlando, also will have two lottery selections, Nos. 7 and 14, the former from the Andrew Wiggins trade with Minnesota. The Timberwolves thus lose their lottery pick this season.
Oklahoma City has Nos. 6, 16 and 18, New York has Nos. 19 and 21 and Houston has Nos. 2, 23 and 24. The Rockets were in danger of losing their pick to the Thunder if it fell outside the top three.
Thus the Rockets come out a winner in this draft with the Pistons—one of three teams with the best odds for the No. 1 selection along with Houston and Orlando—getting the No. 1 pick.
Cleveland in the No. 5 spot and Toronto in the No. 7 spot, the latter just ahead of the Bulls, both moved into the desired top four. The two teams dropping to accommodate the upward moves by Cleveland and Toronto were the Magic and Thunder.
Projected first-overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft, Oklahoma State's Cade Cunningham.
Oklahoma State point forward Cade Cunningham generally has been regarded as the best talent in this draft. It is expected the Pistons will select Cunningham since they have primarily a young team with point guard Killian Hayes at No. 7 from last year's draft. Hayes was injured much of the season. But the Pistons had two all-rookie selections from draft night trades last year with Isaiah Stewart at No. 16 and Saddiq Bey at No. 19.
Houston in a full scale rebuilding after trading James Harden and Russell Westbrook and Chris Paul before that has no true center. They are expected to select USC center Evan Mobley.
NBA scouts rate a top four in this draft with Gonzaga point guard Jalen Suggs and G-league scoring guard Jalen Green rounding out the four. With multiple point guard selections in recent drafts, the Cavaliers at No. 3 are expected to select Green. That could make high scoring guard Collin Sexton available in trade since Darius Garland has been playing more point guard in Cleveland.
Suggs would be a natural for the Raptors, who are expected to lose point guard Kyle Lowry.
G-league player Jonathan Kuminga is considered the next best prospect by many NBA executives, though there generally are a wide variety of opinions after the top picks. The Magic will bring back injured point guard Markelle Fultz and forward Jonathan Isaac, the latter a similar player to Kuminga. Baylor point guard Davion Mitchell also is high on the lists of some teams and expected to be a lottery pick between Nos. 6 and 14. Which makes for the possibility of trading into the lottery with teams like Orlando and Golden State with multiple selections.
By failing to fall into one of those top four selections, the Bulls figure to focus on adding a guard in the offseason. Especially with Coby White sustaining a shoulder injury and likely out until early next season.
The most common speculation this week has been the fate of Philadelphia 76ers All-Star point guard Ben Simmons following a poor playoff series in the 76ers loss and some apparent misgivings among teammates. The 76ers desire shooters, and the Bulls have a very good one in restricted free agent Lauri Markkanen. Could there be a possibility of a sign and trade? Though Simmons despite his poor shooting figures to have a healthy trade market if the 76ers decide to go in that famous other direction. Already media has suggested a half dozen possible destinations for Simmons.
Nikola Vucevic and Zach LaVine
The Bulls have contract guarantees for Vucevic, Zach LaVine, Patrick Williams, White, Troy Brown Jr. and Al-Farouq Aminu for next season's roster. Thad Young and Tomas Satoransky have partially guaranteed contracts for next season. The Bulls have an option on Ryan Arcidiacono. The Bulls can match if Markkanen gets a contract offer from another team. Markkanen could sign with the Bulls or play on a final year deal and become an unrestricted free agent after next season. Cristiano Felicio, Daniel Theis, Garrett Temple, Denzel Valentine and Javonte Green are unrestricted free agents.
So for now the Bulls' core is considered to be Vucevic, LaVine, Williams and White.
With more to come.
The Bulls could get under the salary cap and into free agency without the free agents and players with options and partial guarantees. The Bulls also could bring in 6-11 center/forward Marko Simonovic from last year's draft in the second round. He played well in the Serbian league this season.
So forget the lottery ticket now. It's time to get back to work.