Why the Chicago Bulls Must Trade Up in the 2012 NBA Draft

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Why the Chicago Bulls Must Trade Up in the 2012 NBA Draft
If the Bulls don't trade up in the NBA draft, they will miss out on prized prospects like Kentucky's Doron Lamb.

For the cash-strapped Chicago Bulls to get a difference-maker on their roster, they need to aggressively trade up in the NBA draft to get a promising scoring guard.

The Bulls got the second-lowest first-round pick in the 2012 NBA draft because they had the best record in the regular season (50-16) along with the Spurs. Fans and reporters would overlook this pick if the Bulls made the NBA Finals.

However, Chicago fell flat on its face and dropped its first-round series to the Philadelphia 76ers and Derrick Rose will miss a good portion on next year recovering from a torn ACL injury.

Not only that, but the Bulls don't have the cap room to get a big free agent. Most of the $63 million in guaranteed 2012-13 contracts go to Rose, Carlos Boozer, Joakim Noah and Luol Deng ($55.5 million) 

That doesn't leave much room for the Bulls to dodge the luxury tax threshold, as it was $70.3 million this past season. 

Seven players are under contract (Rose, Boozer, Noah, Deng, Richard Hamilton, Taj Gibson, Jimmy Butler), while the Bulls need to make decisions on Kyle Korver ($5 million), Ronnie Brewer ($4.71 million) and C.J. Watson ($3.7 million). 

What the Bulls seriously lack on their roster is someone who could carry the offensive load when Rose is out or having an off night. Rose's injury proved Chicago relies too much on role players as the 76ers held the Bulls under 80 points three times. 

Boozer is highly inconsistent and Deng seems to disappear in the playoffs. Noah is a good player, but he is never going to be a main offensive option. Hamilton was brought in to be the team's starting shooting guard, but injuries and age show that he isn't a long-term solution.

Duke's Austin Rivers had a disappointing year, but he is a talented scorer.

What the Bulls need is a shooting guard who is young, athletic and can score to help out Rose for years to come.

Drafting all the way at the 29th pick will prevent the Bulls from possibly drafting top guards like Duke's Austin Rivers, Kentucky's Doron Lamb and Washington's Terrence Ross. 

These three shooting guards all have decent length (all are at least 6'4"), are good shooters, can score (all had 13 or more points per game last year) and have great athleticism.

Rivers is more of a raw talent and did have an underachieving year with the Blue Devils (43.3 percent shooting and didn't dominate), but he has significant natural talent and is a determined winner. He would be surrounded by grounded veterans who would make sure he wouldn't be bigger than the team.

Lamb has two years under his belt with the Kentucky Wildcats, being a starter both seasons. He is a good team player and performed big in pressure-filled games (he had 22 points on 7-of-12 shooting in the NCAA championship game). Lamb can stretch the floor with a killer jumper (46.6 percent from three) and plays well with star players like Anthony Davis and Terrence Jones.

Ross is a sophomore from the Washington Huskies who was selected to the Pac-12 first team. Ross (6'6", 195 pounds) can play either the 2 or 3 positions and stretch the floor with his three-point shooting (37.1 percent). He showed dramatic improvement in his second season and is the best rebounder of the three (6.4 boards in 2011-12). 

Washington's Terrence Rose won Pac-12 first-team honors. He can score by driving the lane and nailing jumpers.

The Bulls need to trade up by giving Omer Asik, this year's pick and next year's pick to a team in need of an NBA-proven center. Asik has youth, rebounding and solid post defense that should interest some teams. 

Possible trading partners include the Portland Trail Blazers and Houston Rockets. Both teams are looking for big men (Portland needs to replace Greg Oden, and Houston still needs someone to replace Yao Ming) and both have picks within the Top 16. 

The Trail Blazers would be harder to pry loose from their two picks because they also are looking to fill in shooting guard Brandon Roy's roster spot. However, getting Asik to help LaMarcus Aldridge down low would help Aldridge perform better on the offensive end.

As for the Rockets, they might trade for Asik if Tyler Zeller and Meyers Leonard are not available when they choose.

If the Bulls want to move further up in the draft (which is highly unlikely), they could trade their first-round pick this year, the Charlotte pick and Nikola  Mirotić to a team like the Cleveland Cavaliers or Washington Wizards for a Top 5 pick.

With how Mirotić has been playing lately, the Bulls will probably not (and should not) release his rights. 

The scoring-challenged Bulls need to move up in the draft if they want to get a difference-maker to help their championship push by giving Rose a legitimate scoring partner. A guard like Austin Rivers, Doron Lamb or Terrence Ross would do the trick.

Bob Bajek is an NBA/Chicago Bulls featured columnist. He is also a freelance reporter and can be followed on Patch.com and Twitter.

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