The Chicago Bulls have not behaved like a team that finished with the best regular season record for the second consecutive year as they have been very busy with pre-draft workouts.
According to Aggrey Smith at CNSChicago.com, the Bulls have auditioned an array of bigs including Michigan State’s Draymond Green, Gonzaga’s Robert Sacre and Syracuse’s Fab Melo.
This inclusion of so many big men in the Bulls’ pre-draft activities, despite the glaring need for an athletic, shot-creating wing, raises some interesting speculation surrounding the team’s personnel plans for the upcoming summer.
It actually makes sense for Chicago to look at frontcourt prospects in this draft when considering the restricted free agent status of Omer Asik.
The fact that Asik is restricted does benefit the Bulls since they can match any offer put forth; however, as explained by Blogabull.com, Chicago can still be put in an uncomfortable financial spot if a team covets Asik enough.
By working out other big men, Chicago is hedging its bets and creating options if Asik's free agency becomes more trouble than it is worth.
The presence of Melo in the Bulls’ pre-draft activities strongly suggests that the Bulls think this could be the case.
When placed side by side, Melo and Asik are very similar players. They are strong defensive athletes with limited offensive repertoires, and the offensive downside is not much of a concern since the main obligations of a Bulls center under coach Tom Thibodeau are to defend and rebound.
Drafting Melo, should he still be available when the Bulls pick at No. 29, puts the Bulls back at square one with a project at the center position. However, his athleticism combined with his defensive prowess give him the potential to be better than Asik.
Obtaining the Syracuse big man also gives the Bulls some options for operating in free agency.
The best case scenario could have Chicago drafting Melo and then packaging Asik in a sign-and-trade deal that could land the Bulls some much needed backcourt help. The worst case scenario would have the Bulls breaking even should Asik refuse to sign a qualifying offer or the team fails to match an offer sheet.
One thing is for certain—even when facing a rocky 2012-2013 season, the prospects being worked out by the Bulls show that the management still has a solid long-term vision for this team’s success.
Fans should expect a rocky campaign next season but can fully assume that things will be back on track soon after that.