Chicago Bulls' Draft Recap: Goodbye Tyrus?
In Thursday night's NBA Draft, the Chicago Bulls had two first round selections. There was a great deal of speculation that the Bulls were trying to trade up, but when the dust settled on the first round they had stayed put with the 16th and 26th selections.
At 16, the Bulls selected James Johnson, a power forward from Wake Forest. Johnson is described as athletic, and can play either the small or power forward positions. He was listed as a six-foot-eight, 255-pound forward.
Then, at 26, the Bulls took Taj Gibson, a power forward from USC. Gibson is described as a long, athletic player. He was listed at six-foot-ten inches, and 214 pounds.
In response to the Cavs' deal for O'Neal, the defending Eastern Conference Champion Orlando Magic traded for superstar Vince Carter.
Place these two trades into the context that the Bulls are less than a week from July 1, when leading scorer Ben Gordon becomes an unrestricted free agent. The loudest rumors swirling around Gordon are that division rival Detroit is going to make a substantial offer for the diminutive shooting guard.
There are also rumors that the Bulls are looking to potentially move captain Kirk Hinrich, with Portland being the most likely destination.
The losses of Hinrich and Gordon would cut a great deal of depth from the Bulls' back court, which is now being centered around last year's top overall pick and Rookie of the Year, Derrick Rose.
The Bulls, under the direction of newly-named General Manager Gar Foreman, now have a surplus of big men. Last seasons playoffs saw a swift maturation from Joakim Noah and Tyrus Thomas against the Kevin Garnett-less Boston Celtics.
Thursday brought reports that a deal was in the works for Stoudemire to be going to Golden State in a deal for three players, though.
What exactly are the Bulls doing?
The roster, as it would stand on Opening Night assuming Hinrich is dealt and Gordon signs elsewhere, would have an overloaded group of athletic big men with very little depth at small forward and guard. Other than Rose, John Salmons would potentially be the only other guard on that roster.
However, the Bulls would have Thomas, Noah, Johnson, Gibson, Brad Miller, Aaron Gray and Jerome James at the power forward and center position. James has an expiring contract, and Gray would likely be a depth casualty.
The only small forwards would be Salmons or Luol Deng.
Is there a plan in place?
There is no question, watching the Bulls last season, that the Bulls needed more depth in the lane. But what sense does it make to draft a tall, skinny Gibson and an athletic "tweener" in Johnson when the Bulls have a tall, skinny Noah and an athletic "tweener" in Thomas already?
Is there another trade on the horizon?
The initial, gut reaction to the selections the Bulls made are that the Bulls have prepared their roster to absorb the loss of one of their young forwards. One name that has been popular in rumored inquiries has been Thomas, who has off-the-charts athletic ability and could develop into one of the league's premier shot blocking forwards.
Johnson was touted by some scouts as being similar in the skill set to Thomas. Gibson, meanwhile, is already 24-years old. He'll actually be one of the older players on the Bulls roster when he arrives.
As the dust settles from the overwhelming names moving across the landscape in the Eastern Conference, the Bulls have done nothing to date to improve their standing as anything more than a fringe playoff contender. While it makes sense to keep cap space available for next summer's free agent crop, staying out of next summer's lottery should also be a goal.
It would appear that the Bulls have the pieces in place to make a move, and have players that other organizations could be intrigued by. Johnson and Gibson might make Thomas more available than he was before Thursday night.
Now the question becomes what the Bulls bring in to round out the roster.
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