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The Bulls didn’t trade Jordan Bell. What they did was actually worse.

the selling of the 2nd round pick will never make sense

2017 Las Vegas Summer League - Golden State Warriors v Minnesota Timberwolves Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

We’ve gone over this before: the Bulls trading of their 2nd round pick made no sense and the front office’s defense of it only cemented that.

But it still should be mentioned, and heck we’re only a month removed into what may be a 12-year rebuild, so why ‘move on’ so soon?

The below was pointed out to me A LOT during Summer League.

Here’s the thing: while transaction records for all time will show the Bulls having drafted Jordan Bell only to trade him, they didn’t really draft Jordan Bell. Heck, thinking they did actually would give their scouting some kind of credit given how Bell projects.

What actually happened is that 38 picks into a purportedly-loaded draft, the Bulls board “dried up”. GarPax (and yes they’re both aligned in this, though Paxson was fuzzier on the details because he isn’t good at this NBA transactions stuff) liked players from the wing position only, to which:

  1. really there were no wings? 24 year old David Nwaba is a better play?
  2. you’re one of the least-talented teams in the league and need ANYTHING, position shouldn’t matter.

What also happened, instead of drafting and trading Jordan Bell, is this complete horeshit excuse of needing the roster flexibility. I tried to get further clarification from KC Johnson of the Tribune, graciously his latest mailbag:

I’ve heard you relay the Bulls claim that they needed "roster flexibility" instead of using the 38th pick in the draft. This just isn’t true. The roster maximum in the offseason is 20. Could be two scenarios: Is the Bulls front office incompetent and doesn’t know how roster sizes work? Or are they brazenly lying to cover some ownership mandate to acquire cash for Rajon Rondo’s buyout (and other expenditures)? — Matt, Chicago

As a longtime team follower, surely you know the Bulls rarely carry 15 players during the season. So they’re not going to use a second-round pick on a player they didn’t have in their plans, especially when it can net them $3.5 million. You also know they’re the “financial champs” for a reason. I’m actually hung up less on the money and more on not adding a young player to take a chance on, although they now have done so with Antonio Blakeney and David Nwaba. I thought they’d draft Dwayne Bacon at No. 38 for sure.

I do ‘know’ the Bulls pretty well. Mostly that they’re a damaging combination of cheap and incompetent. I’m trying to get to the bottom of which side they were in this move, but maybe it’s indeed both!

But to further clarify that their stated rationale makes no sense:

  • The roster max is 15 during the regular season, true. They’re at 13 now and Mirotic is potentially another, but maybe not. There’s also the two additional two-way deals, of which they’ve used only one for Blakeney.
  • If, in Bulls logic world, they don’t want a full roster, then you can either not sign the 2nd round pick, or waive them whenever the spot is needed. In the meantime you get a look at the ‘dart’ you just threw. That costs money, but just money.
  • You’ve just spent significant time giving eachother awards for choosing a PATH, one that involves taking chances on young cheap players that 2nd round picks can get you. If you don’t want to use one this year, how can you not get a future 2nd rounder in exchange?

These is mostly a rhetorical exercise. There is no logical explanation for the selling of their second round pick outside of, again, a combination of cheapness and incompetence. It’d be nice to know if this was an ownership directive to get cash for future buyouts, or that the Bulls scouting staff is so under-resourced they have no confidence to acquire more prospects.

The roster size thing is so damned dumb that it almost can be ruled out in favor of the explanation that ownership dictated they get some money for future salary obligations. That’s so gross we should be demanding that acknowledgement.