With the NBA Draft just days away, Sam Smith plays the role of General Manager to come up with five potential trades the Bulls could make involving Draft picks.
The new Bulls management would make Jerry Krause proud. They've haven't given the slightest clue or indication what they are thinking or anything revealing about their philosophy regarding the NBA Draft next week, free agency, trades or the roster.
But after basically eight months idle, the Bulls finally are awakening in joining the NBA for the Nov. 18 Draft, the Nov. 20 start of free agency negotiations and signings to begin Nov. 22. And then the start of the 2020-21 season on December 22. It will be a reduced 72-game schedule to attempt to return to the familiar 82-game, fall start schedule for the 2021-22 season.
But first it's the Draft, the highlight for the new management group thus far with the team's ascension in the draft lottery to the No. 4 selection. Basketball operations chief Arturas Karnisovas has said the team's priority will be best talent available, a relatively subjective appraisal. There has been speculation the Bulls will trade up for the No. 1 pick and trade down for No. 14, Karnisovas saying early in the process this draft is unique for one team's view of a player at No. 4 could be another team's rating that same player at No. 14.
We've all been guessing about the Bulls draft choice for months, and that speculation will intensity next week. Meanwhile, the NBA trading season figures to begin shortly before Wednesday's draft. This was once my job as self appointed advisor to Krause. He even surprised me one day with a business card. Jerry and I had a big laugh. We did not do that often.
So could the Bulls stick their toe in the trading pond as well? Let me start with the disclaimer that I don't expect the Bulls to make any significant trades because of the combination of the new management/coaching staff having not seen any of them play and player values being low because of the losing season and absence from the Orlando bubble.
Still, this is what we do this time of year, or at least at draft time, which is five months late. So let the fantasy trading begin.
Bulls and New Orleans Pelicans:
Jrue Holiday, No. 13 and a future No. 1 for Zach LaVine, No. 4 and Cristiano Felicio.
There have been rumors, of course denied, the Pelicans want to move Holiday. It's reasonably certain they do. Holiday is a former All-Star and all-defensive player. But he's become secondary with the Pelicans' young group led by Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram. He's played more off the ball with Lonzo Ball at point guard. A reunion with brother LaMelo? Probably not as LaMelo figures not to fall to No. 4, though he could with shooting flaws. Yes, like Lonzo's.
LaVine fits better at shooting guard with their athletes and gives the Pelicans at No. 4 a chance for Ball or another of the top prospects as they're probably still a year or two away from a run in the Western Conference. I actually don't see the Bulls trading LaVine until they see how he fits with Coby White. I think LaVine is under appreciated by even the Chicago media and fan base. But Holiday is exactly the sort of veteran point guard who could elevate the Bulls immediately, a top defender at the point of the defense. Felicio is just to match salary with a year remaining on his contract. The Pelicans have loads of future firsts they don't need from the Anthony Davis trade. Adding LaVine would give them a powerful, athletic wing group with Williamson and Ingram. The Bulls would get a seasoned point guard and defender to make an immediate move into playoff contention. And then at No. 13, the Bulls still should be able to find talent, perhaps like point guards Kira Lewis or Tyrell Terry or a wing like Saddiq Bey or Aaron Nesmith.
Bulls and Golden State Warriors:
Andrew Wiggins and No. 2 for Zach LaVine, Tomas Satoransky and a future No. 1.
I'm not trying to trade LaVine as I've been a fan and champion of his. But hardly any other Bulls have value after last season and the eight-month out of sight/out of mind hiatus. Some of this is financial for salary top heavy Golden State since Wiggins has a contract going up to $40 million by 2023-24. There's been constant speculation he'll be traded, though the Warriors seem to like him. He's been condemned for supposed indifference, but he is talented, athletic and skilled. Plus, the Warriors don't need draft picks. They need players for the Curry/Thompson/Draymond title window. LaVine gives them the missing big scorer for Kevin Durant's spot. Satoransky is their bench replacement for Shaun Livingston. Or Thad Young if they want a replacement for David West. The Bulls get an athletic wing player and former No. 1 overall pick who may just need a new environment. And two of the top four picks in the draft for the point guard of their choice at No. 2, perhaps the talented LaMelo Ball, and then perhaps a physical defender like Onyeka Okongwu at No. 4. Or a power forward scorer like Obi Toppin. And so the roster remake begins?
Bulls and Detroit Pistons:
Derrick Rose and No. 7 for No. 4 and Tomas Satoransky.
This is the longtime Chicago fan fantasy of a Rose return I don't believe will occur. But there have been rumors the Pistons want to move up in the draft for a point guard. Rose has just one year left on his deal and still harbors ambitions of playing on a title team. There have been rumors of joining the Lakers or Clippers in trade. But Rose truly does love his native Chicago and would love nothing more than bringing the franchise back to relevance. There's some salary cap tweaking involved. But with one year left on his deal the Pistons likely would accommodate Rose's wishes. Satoransky fits nicely with a short term deal as the mentor for the new point guard in Detroit, which has a new GM. And Rose has welcomed coming off the bench in his career renewal. Rose could be a guide for Coby White and return some excitement and passion to the roster. And the Bulls still would be in position for a player like Okongwu, Toppin or Deni Avdija at No. 7.
Bulls and New York Knicks:
Kevin Knox and/or stuff and No. 8 for No 4 and Tomas Satoransky.
This is more spitballing based also on rumors the Knicks want to move up in the draft for a point guard, namely Ball. So perhaps if he falls to No. 4. Satoransky is a solid pro who also was underutilized with the Bulls last season and due for a better season. He'd give the Knicks and Tom Thibodeau some needed stability at the point until the new guy is ready. This also depends on how down the Knicks are on Knox, who fell out of favor last season. He's been a disappointment since being selected No. 9 in 2018, so he perhaps needs a try elsewhere. The Knicks have new management since his selection. There also are possibilities if the Bulls like Frank Ntilikina or Elfrid Payton. You assume the entire Knicks roster but R.J. Barrett is available.
Bulls and Boston Celtics:
Gordon Hayward, Nos. 14, 26 and 30 for Thad Young, Tomas Satoransky, Chandler Hutchison and No. 4.
This pretty much is so I can have a fifth trade, though it seems unlikely even to me. Just that there's been speculation Boston wants to move Hayward going into his final season assuming he opts in as expected. With injuries and the development of Tatum and Brown, Hayward's role has diminished. But he's a talent. The rumors mostly have a return to Indiana. But the Bulls have that No. 4 selection Boston would like for a big man. Karnisovas can begin to remake the roster in his image with three No. 1s. He says it's a deeper draft than most think. He could prove it. The Bulls have stuff to equalize the salary. Hayward can become a free agent after next season, but it would be up to the Bulls to persuade him not to as he seems heathy again. With White, LaVine and Hayward, the Bulls could immediately have a contending perimeter to persuade Hayward to sign on. While the Celtics with Enes Kanter probably opting out could use savvy veterans for the bench for that elusive and long promised Finals run.