Well, it’s been an exciting week and a half without the internet for me. I moved to the South Side of Chicago last Thursday, and it’s taken this long for my internet provider to run a new line to the house. Since my move, the Bulls are locked into the seventh pick in next months draft, two potential future Bulls left the Draft Combine early while rumors swirled they would be drafted by teams with high picks, and Jimmy Butler was seen “having dinner” with Jim Boylen at a restaurant near downtown Chicago. Fun times.
It’s the third draft in a row in which the Bulls appear to be picking 7th overall. I say “appear to be” because it sounds like John Paxson and Gar Forman would be very open to trading the pick for a veteran point guard and future draft considerations. Two guards rumored to be available via trade would be the Los Angeles Lakers’ Lonzo Ball, and the Memphis Grizzlies’ Mike Conley.
Ball is a talented floor general with great court vision, a high basketball IQ, and a lousy shot. He is thought to be unhappy in L.A. ever since LeBron tried to trade him, and the rest of the team, to New Orleans for Anthony Davis. Ball’s age and rookie scale contract make him a good fit for the Bulls and their assumed timeline to greatness. He would mesh well with Zach LaVine and Lauri Markkanen on the offensive side of the court as he is a decidedly unselfish player. Ball averages 6.4 assists per game, with an assist to turnover rate of 2.62, all while grabbing 5.3 rebounds a game (Kris Dunn is averaging just under 6 assists per game, with an assist to turnover rate of 2.28, and 4.1 rebounds). Lonzo Ball would be a talented player, but I’m worried his inability to shoot the basketball might lead to the same frustrations we currently have with Kris Dunn. Ball could certainly improve as a shooter, but then again, so could Kris Dunn.
Conley is one of the best all-around point guards in the league. If the Bulls were to acquire him from Memphis, they would immediately find themselves “in the hunt” for the playoffs, the FO’s stated goal for the season. They would also have an aging veteran (currently 31 years old) on a bloated contract ($71+ million over the next two seasons) that could handicap the team in free agency for a couple seasons. It’s very unlikely the Bulls will sacrifice their remaining future salary cap flexibility, especially after the hit it took when they traded for Otto Porter Jr. Cap flexibility is one of the things GarPax value the most as a Front Office. It’s one of the reasons they didn’t want to keep Jimmy Butler. If they had built around Butler, he would have been eligible for a super-max contract this summer, and that would have taken a huge chunk of the Bulls cap space for the next 5 seasons. I have a hard time seeing GarPax take on Mike Conley’s giant contract, not with Porter on the team.
The Promise(s) Part II:
Last year, Chandler Hutchison left the NBA Draft Combine early after securing a promise from the Chicago Bulls that they would draft him 22nd overall, this year both Darius Garland and Coby White left early with rumors swirling they had received similar promises from high lottery teams.
Garland, Vanderbilt’s elite shooting point guard who tore his meniscus 5 games into last seasons campaign, seems to have drawn a promise from the L.A. Lakers at pick #4. If the Lakers did make a promise to Garland this would lend credence to the rumors that Lonzo Ball is likely to be traded this offseason. From the stand point of the draft, it’s unfortunate for the Bulls because Garland was definitely one of the point guards they were targeting with the seventh pick. In the broad scheme of things, I think I like what is known about Lonzo Ball more than I like the hope of Darius Garland. Garland is an elite shooter with great handles, but he is also slight and undersized, he made more turnovers in college than assists, and I’m not sure he’ll be able to get to the rim as a pro. Ball may not be able to shoot, but he can distribute the ball to shooters at an elite level, and that’s what the Bulls need right now. Get the ball to Markkanen and LaVine, and let them work. If it’s a choice between Ball and Garland, I’m leaning toward Ball. Of course this means the Bulls would have to be the team the Lakers trade Ball to, and there is no guarantee that will happen.
Coby White is not a natural point guard, but he grew into that roll in his one season at North Carolina. His surprising play seems to have been enough to secure a draft promise from the Phoenix Suns with the #6 pick. This is awful news for the Bulls. With Ja Morant expected to go to the Memphis Grizzlies #2 overall, and Darius Garland promised to the Lakers at #4, the Bulls hopes for a top point guard rest on Coby White being available at #7. If the rumors are true, and the Suns have promised White they will pick him at 6th overall, the Bulls will have to look elsewhere to fill their need at the point. On the other hand, this could be a blessing in disguise. I’m not sold on White as being an elite point guard. He seems to have a fairly high talent ceiling, and I like his chances to be a solid pro more than I like Garland’s, but he is still a prospect, and that means there is potential for bust. There is also potential for an exciting draft night. If the Bulls truly like White, this may inspire them to trade with the Cleveland Cavaliers for the #5 pick, leapfrogging the Suns and giving themselves a chance at one of the best point guards in this draft. I don’t know exactly what it would take to get the #5 pick, but it would probably mean a future 1st rounder, all of this seasons picks, and maybe a player as well. We’ll see what the Front Office decides to do.
Table for Two:
— Bulls Nation (@BullNationCHI) May 21, 2019
Jimmy Butler was in town last week, and he just happened to meet up with Coach Jim Boylen at a local restaurant. When the original story broke, it sounded like the two had a planned dinner meeting, sparking rumors that Butler might be interested in returning to the Bulls. But when some actual reporting was done, it turned out to be nothing more than a coincidence. Butler and his friends happened to be at the same restaurant as Jim Boylen and new Bulls assistant coach Chris Flemming. Butler and Boylen sat down briefly together and exchanged pleasantries before returning to their own parties.
The firestorm of activity this brief meeting caused across Bulls social media was pretty comical. I think a lot of people forgot just how much bad blood there is between GarPax and Butler. There is no way Jimmy is coming back to the Bulls while those two run the team. If you remember, the day Butler was traded his personal trainer took to twitter suggesting that drug dealers where more trustworthy than GarPax. The Bulls don’t want Jimmy Butler, and Jimmy Butler doesn’t want the Bulls. ‘Nuff said.
— Sportando (@Sportando) June 23, 2017
You know who else doesn’t want the Bulls? Long, long, long time assistant coach Pete Myers (16 seasons). He resigned last week, even as Jim Boylen works to fill out his coaching staff. I haven’t read much on why Myers decided to quit, but he has been around for a while, maybe he just wants a change of scenery.
That’ll do it for this week. In the weeks to come, you can expect The Chicago Bulls 2019 NBA Draft Board According to RokDeez as well as some thoughts on what and who the Bulls should target in free agency. Until then, thanks for reading and GO BULLS!