2014 NBA Draft Rumors: Latest Buzz Surrounding Chicago Bulls

Kelly Scaletta@@KellyScalettaFeatured ColumnistJune 21, 2014

Creighton's Doug McDermott (3) fights for control of the ball during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Xavier in the semifinals of the Big East Conference tournament Friday, March 14, 2014, at Madison Square Garden in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
Frank Franklin II/Associated Press

The 2014 NBA draft is now less than a week away, and the Chicago Bulls will begin making the decisions that could make this the most important offseason since the days of Michael Jordan.

My purpose in this article is not to speculate about which players the Bulls might choose, but to tie together different reports of who they have actually worked out, and/or what else they may do with their picks.

The Bulls have two picks, Nos. 16 and 19, but how and whether they use them is very much up in the air. Looking at which players they’ve worked out does give us a clue as to what they’re thinking, though.

This is not a complete list of players the Bulls have worked out, but I tried to find all the players they’ve watched whom they could use a first-round pick on.

ESPN's Chad Ford reports that they have worked out Doug McDermott and Nik Stauskas:

Per Draft Express, McDermott would provide what the Bulls need most: offense.

McDermott's efficiency was also extremely well-rounded. He ranks as the most efficient off-screen and isolation scorer, while ranking in the top-3 scoring off put backs, post ups, and cuts. His multi-dimensional scoring ability is thanks to his tremendously high skill level. Ranking 1st or 2nd among small forward prospects scoring 1.37 points per shot around the rim, 1.15 points per pull up jump shot, and 1.31 points per catch and shoot jump shot, McDermott is a plug a play type offensively at the next level. His lack of athleticism may limit him to some degree around the rim (and we haven't discussed his defense), but his feel for the game and high level shot making ability should help him make an impact for a team offensively sooner rather than later.

Per Ford, Stauskas would also, but that looks optimistic:

Stauskas continues to carry the label as the best pure shooter in the draft. He has his first two workouts this week in Boston and L.A. The Celtics pick sixth and the Lakers pick seventh, which feels a bit high for Stauskas, but given the buzz he's had recently, getting drafted that high is not out of the question. He'll also get looks from Charlotte, Philly, Denver, Orlando and Minnesota. It's hard to see him slipping past the Timberwolves, a team looking for shooters.

Working out both players, who are projected to go in the top 12 in most mocks, indicates that Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated is correct in reporting:

Chicago is aggressively trying to move its two first-round picks, according to rival executives. The Bulls are believed to be looking for either a veteran scorer or the chance to move up in the draft to select a young wing player with scoring potential.

If they decide to keep their picks, there are a couple of names that are brought up, and a couple that aren’t.

Adreian Payne, the Michigan State power forward, is another player they’ve worked out. He’s a stretch 4 with a predilection for defense, and he could be there for one of the Bulls' picks.

Per Draft Express, he has the type of body the Bulls like too, as in very long.  

The athletic stretch four measured with the third biggest wingspan at 7-4 after measuring a 7-foot wingspan in 2009 at the LeBron James Camp. He also has gained 25 pounds since then, which is impressive. Payne had one of the largest height-to-wingspan differentials with a plus-7. Payne's measurable (6-9 no shoes and 239 pounds) are similar to 2012 draftee Andrew Nicholson, who measured 6-8 ½ with no shoes and 234 pounds with a 7-4 wingspan. Payne's measurements aren't that far off from Derrick Favors' actually, as he's actually a quarter of an inch taller, with a similar wingspan and standing reach, but is six pounds lighter (Favors was much younger at the same stage though).

Jonathan Wasserman of Bleacher Report compares him to Channing Frye.

 P.J. Hairston of the Texas Legends is another pick who the Bulls could take if they don’t trade anyone.

Hairston is another offense-first player, per Draft Express in reviewing his D-League performance:

The 2nd highest volume offensive player in this group averaging 19.7 possessions per-game, Hairston also ranks as the 3rd most efficient scorer in this group averaging 1.108 points per possession overall. He turned the ball over just 9% of the time in a catch and shoot heavy role, the lowest rate of any player in this group. The former UNC standout did a significant amount of his damage in transition with a 2nd ranked 27.9% of his possessions coming on the break where he scored a 2nd ranked 1.27 points per possession.

There are a lot of mocks I’ve seen where the Bulls are taking Tyler Ennis from Syracuse, Gary Harris from Michigan State or T.J. Warren out of North Carolina State. I could not find a report of them having worked out any of the three, though.

Based on who they’ve worked out, it seems there are two things that are probable.

First, they seem to be going for offense. Many of the mocks seem to like the idea of the Bulls wanting a defensive player that “fits” the Bulls and/or a point guard for “insurance” if Derrick Rose gets injured again. If the Bulls are thinking that, they haven’t shown it. Everyone they’ve worked out is a shooter, and none of them are point guards.  

That's an indication they feel confident in keeping Kirk Hinrich or Jimmer Fredette for the minimum. Or perhaps, that Tom Thibodeau can "whisper" yet another career from the scrap yard. Most likely, they retain Hinrich. 

Second, I only see one pick (at most) coming to Chicago. If they can’t bundle their picks to move up, the most likely scenario is what Kevin Anderson of CSN Chicago suggests:

The Bulls can give themselves an additional $800k in space by drafting a European player like Clint Capela with the 19th overall pick and then entering an agreement with Capela that he won’t play in the NBA next season. By agreeing, a drafted player won’t come over that season, NBA teams gain immediate cap space equal to that draft slot’s rookie salary. It’s a near guarantee that this is happening and every mock draft you see that has the Bulls taking two American players at No. 16 and No. 19 is wrong. $800k may seem like nothing, but it could be the difference in landing Anthony.

If the Bulls deal Mike Dunleavy Jr. and use one of their picks on a draft-and-stash, they can ink Carmelo Anthony for $16.98 million in his first year, per Anderson.

"The Bulls would get Anthony and only lose Boozer and Dunleavy, then defer one of their rookies. That’s a deal you take in a heartbeat, especially if they can bring over Nikola Mirotic with the Room Exception. 

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 13: Carmelo Anthony #7 of the New York Knicks drives against the Chicago Bulls during a game at Madison Square Garden in New York City on April 13, 2014.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and o
Nathaniel S. Butler/Getty Images

And that may be why Brian Windhorst of ESPN speculated on a June 20 SportsCenter that if the New York Knicks are convinced Anthony is set on going to the Bulls, they might agree in principle to a trade for Carlos Boozer and the Bulls' two first-round picks. 

In such an event, the Bulls would use their selections on players of the Knicks' choosing, then use them in a sign-and-trade when signings are allowed on July 10. The deal would be done on or before draft night, but it wouldn't become official until later. 

That works for all three parties.

It works for Anthony because he could start at $18 million. 

For New York, while that's nowhere near an appropriate return for Anthony, it beats getting nothing back for him at all, which is what it would get if he left in free agency. And, it's difficult to play hardball with Chicago if the Bulls feel they can get him cheaper without the trade. 

At least this way New York gets two first-round picks. While Boozer's bloated contract doesn't make it happy, it frees up cap space in the summer of 2015, and thus works with the current rebuilding plan. With that also being a year the Knicks have one of their few first-round picks, getting worse to get better might not be such a bad idea. 

But, bottom line, if Anthony is set on Chicago, this isn't a case of New York getting to choose which deal is the best, fielding competing offers from other teams. The most important part of the sign-and-trade is the sign, not the trade. It's deal or no deal, and that's why New York does it. 

It works in Chicago's favor, too. By doing a sign and trade, it can keep its bi-annual and mid-level exceptions, using the former on D.J. Augustin and the latter on Nikola Mirotic, the Real Madrid star it's waiting for. 

Since this is all predicated on Anthony being set on going to the Bulls, what Windhorst said in this radio interview on ESPN 1000's Waddle and Silvy Show is intriguing. 

From everything I’m hearing, Carmelo has spent a significant amount of time researching the Bulls and their team and what it’s like to live in the city of Chicago. He’s been making calls and talking to people about it. The Bulls have been preparing their pitch, doing background research on what it’s going to take… As of right now, I think Carmelo Anthony has his eyes locked on Chicago.

In other words, this is not just a fleeting interest. And let’s face it, if the Bulls starting five next year are Derrick Rose, Butler, Anthony, Taj Gibson and Joakim Noah, nothing else will matter. 

Let's say, though, that the Bulls don't reach an agreement before draft night and determine they have to go the free agency route. What does Chicago do then? 

It has to consider that Mirotic may not come over for the room exception, which is why I see it taking Payne with the No. 16 pick. (As they say, no Payne, no gain.) The Bulls have been itching for a stretch 4, and he would fit the bill.

To sum up, pay more attention to what the Bulls are doing than what the mocks are saying they’re going to do. The chances they use both picks are very slim. If they do, they won’t take defense or a point guard. Rather, it will be to acquire shooting.

Most importantly, look for moves that signal an impending deal for Anthony.


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