There was no magic for the Bulls Tuesday in the NBA Draft Lottery.
Pas de chance.
No matter what language you say it, there was no luck for the Bulls as the lottery balls failed to bless the Bulls and the Bulls 2023 first round draft pick officially went au revoir.
So the Orlando Magic from the 2021 Nikola Vučević trade get the Bulls selection in this NBA Draft, which will be No. 11. The Magic from that trade also received the Bulls draft selection from 2021, which was No. 8. Orlando picked Franz Wagner. Unless the Bulls make a trade, they do not have a selection in this year’s NBA draft in the first or second round.
The hope, as infinitesimal as it was at 1.8%, was to cash in with the No. 1 pick in this draft for 7-foot-5 Eiffel Tower Victor Wembanyama because the Bulls retained the 2023 pick if it were top four.
Instead, the lottery drawing went for the San Antonio Spurs, who are certain to select the French teenager. And remarkably once again triumph in the lottery and get in position for a championship run as they did after winning the No. 1 picks in 1987 for David Robinson and 1997 for Tim Duncan. Talk about an Arc de Triomphe.
The Spurs this season were tied for last place in the Western Conference with the Houston Rockets at 22-60. The Detroit Pistons had the poorest record in the NBA at 17-65. So in the equalized lottery odds, all three teams had a 14% chance to get the No. 1 pick.
The Pistons had the worst night falling the maximum of four spots to fifth in what will be the NBA Draft next month. The Houston Rockets also slipped in falling to fourth. The Portland Trailblazers with the fifth best odds moved to third and the Charlotte Hornets with the best chances for fourth moved up to second for next month’s draft.
Otherwise, the selections remained as projected with:
6. Orlando Magic
7. Indiana Pacers
8. Washington Wizards
9. Utah Jazz
10. Dallas Mavericks
11. Orlando Magic
12. Oklahoma City Thunder
13. Toronto Raptors
14. New Orleans Pelicans.
The terms of the 2021 Bulls trade with the Magic was Orlando gets the Bulls first round draft picks in 2021 and 2023, unless in the top four. Then the pick would roll over to the next year. But since the Magic now has both draft picks, the transaction is complete. Orlando also received Wendell Carter Jr. and Otto Porter Jr. in the trade and the Bulls received Al-Farouq Aminu.
The Bulls this year also do not own their second round draft pick. It went to Washington in the Jabari Parker/Bobby Portis deal and then on to the Lakers. The Bulls have a first round pick in 2024, but their first round pick in 2025 goes to the Spurs, top 10 protected. Yes, that’s how you do rebuilding: Get lucky like the Spurs.
The Mavericks held onto their first round pick even if it might have cost them $750,000 for that apparent tanking episode when they apparently purposely lost to the Bulls late in the season. If Dallas’ pick was 11-14 it would have gone to the Knicks.
So now begins the mock drafts, and it shouldn’t be too confusing this year with Wembanyama the certain No. 1.
San Antonio Spurs: Victor Wembanyama.
If the French Alps of the hardwood is all they say he is the Spurs are back in title contention in a few years. They have multiple first round picks next season from trades and some promising young players in Keldon Johnson and Devin Vassell. Coach Gregg Popovich could go on to 80 now.
2. Charlotte Hornets: Brandon Miller.
It seemed like guard Scoot Henderson was the likely second pick, but with LaMelo Ball at point guard and Henderson not a top shooter it makes sense to go bigger with the guard dominated roster.
3. Portland Trailblazers: Scoot Henderson
Time to break it up and trade Damian Lillard. Perhaps if they’d gotten the No. 1 pick and Wembanyama. But with Jerami Grant a free agent and likely to leave, there doesn’t seem to be a path anymore. Maybe a team like Orlando that can give them two lottery picks and a young player. Several teams also have multiple first round picks, including Indiana, Utah, Charlotte and Brooklyn. Portland also has the Knicks pick at No. 23.
4. Houston Rockets: Amen Thompson
It’s a top three draft, so it becomes more eye of the beholder. Most regard he and his twin brother as big time attacking athletes, which the Rockets already have plenty of. So who knows with new coach Ume Udoka trying to bring some disciple and defense.
5. Detroit Pistons: Gradey Dick
This is what a bad rebuild looks like, though not because of Gradey Dick. Just bad luck after being by far the worst team all season. And falling the maximum number of spots. Cade Cunningham should return to take over the ball, but it’s a terrible shooting team with 34-year-old Bojan Bogdanović a likely trade prospect. So maybe take the best shooter in the draft.
6. Orlando Magic: Taylor Hendricks
They’ll probably look to trade the picks, Nos. 6 and the latter 11 from the Bulls, for a veteran to complement their solid young roster. If not maybe the local guy who fits their style with long, athletic players.
7. Indiana Pacers: Ausar Thompson
They’ve got some good young players who can shoot, so perhaps adding the big athlete to complement their developing group.
8. Washington Wizards: Anthony Black
It’s a mess of a roster with a new general manager coming in. Like with Portland, it’s time to make a move and deal Bradley Beal. Perhaps to Orlando if they cannot get someone like Lillard. If they keep the pick, they badly need ballhandling.
9. Utah Jazz: Jarace Walker
A tough physical defensive player to become the Charles Oakley-esque protector for developing star Lauri Markkanen.
10. Dallas Mavericks: Cam Whitmore
They kept the pick, but for what it cost them they probably were hoping it would be a bit higher. He’s a tough, physical guy who can make a shot, and they need help in a lot of places.
11. Orlando Magic (from Chicago Bulls)
I can’t go on. Vive la France.
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