What are the Bulls going to do? Blow it up and trade Jimmy Butler, try and build around him, or continue neither in their run with mediocrity?
At this point all we can do is guess, speculate and debate. But Tuesday night’s NBA Draft Lottery may move the needle slightly in identifying the Bulls offseason and future of the organization.
Four teams hold double-digit chances at securing the number one overall pick; Boston via Brooklyn, Phoenix, Los Angeles and Philadelphia (an annual event for them). If Bulls management is leaning towards moving on from Butler behind closed doors, which of these teams would they’d be willing to negotiate with should they land the top spot?
Boston Celtics via Brooklyn - 25% chance
The most logical partner in this debate by far. It was a year ago that the Bulls were on the verge of trading Butler to Boston during the draft. More speculation came about during this year’s trade deadline, but nothing substantial ever came about. If Boston does indeed land the top spot, it’s safe to say those negotiations will heat up again.
Management has made it well known that it’ll take a Godfather offer to deal Butler, and Boston may very well have the pieces to do so. In addition to this year’s potential first overall pick, they also have another unprotected first round pick from Brooklyn in the 2018 draft. One would assume to get Butler it would take both picks, in addition to one or two rotational pieces from Boston, such as Avery Bradley, Jae Crowder, Marcus Smart or Jaylen Brown.
Phoenix Suns - 19.9% chance
Last week our own Ricky O’Donnell had his mock draft include the Suns winning the draft lottery, and trading the number one pick for Butler. Ricky then had the Bulls drafting Markelle Fultz from Washington.
As noted in his piece, Phoenix has done a pretty damn good job of storing assets for a moment such as this. For Phoenix, it may need to add another pick, say its 2018 or 2021 first rounder owed to them from Miami. In addition, I’ll adjust this idea from Ricky and say a more attractive deal would be Brandon Knight plus either Marquese Chriss or TJ Warren. The latter two being young enough to build around Fultz.
Los Angeles Lakers - 15.6%
Is Los Angeles’ new front office duo of Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka willing to part ways with the number one pick? We may find out soon enough.
The Lakers don’t have shit in terms of future picks, which may slightly hinder their chances of negotiations with the Bulls. But it seems as though there are no “untouchables” on the roster. So...given the salary matching requirements, the number one pick with Brandon Ingram and Jordan Clarkson may be enticing if this were the case. If not Ingram, then other young assets such as D’Angelo Russell or Julius Randle could be options. Either way, for it to work the Lakers will need to part ways with at least two of their young pieces.
Philadelphia 76ers - 11.9%
Of the four likely teams to land the top pick, Philly is probably the least likely to engage with the Bulls, and vice versa. Though Philly does have a plethora of picks thanks to Sam ‘Trust The Process’ Hinkie, they don’t have a lot of they’d be willing to part ways with. Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, and Dario Saric, don’t even think about it.
For this trade to come about it’ll revolve around the often-maligned center, Jahlil Okafor. During the trade deadline there were rumblings of the Bulls and Sixers negotiating a trade for the Chicago-native, but nothing came to fruition. But a trade involving Philly would need to include a number of their picks (they’d get the Lakers selection this year if the Lakers fall outside of the top-3), with Okafor and other filler.
Not exactly a sexy selection, right?
With an 8.8% and 5.3% chance, Orlando and Minnesota offer far more enticing options than the Sixers should they sneak into the number one pick.
Tuesday night’s draft lottery is going to have a number of implications surrounding it per usual. All eyes of course will be on the Boston Celtics, because if they are fortunate enough, it could very well lead to re-ignited negotiations for Butler or possibly Indiana’s Paul George.
During last week’s presser with John Paxson and Gar Forman, neither committed to Butler as the face of the franchise, but neither, especially Paxson would be comfortable with a full rebuild. But Tuesday night will move this franchise one step closer to hopefully finding out which direction they’ll choose to go in.