Following last night’s NBA Draft Lottery, the Chicago Bulls will officially not have a draft selection in the 2023 NBA Draft, as the Orlando Magic now own the rights to their 11th overall selection. That does not mean they could not get back into the draft via trade, something they should seriously consider. Chicago finds itself in this position because of the first significant move by the then-first-year front office leader Arturas Karnisovas, trading this pick as part of the package that acquired Nikola Vucevic. While revisiting whether or not the deal was regrettable for the Bulls is a conversation for another day, let’s see what they can still do to salvage their roster and future ahead of the 2023-24′ campaign.
Blockbuster Deal With Portland
The Portland Trail Blazers were very fortunate to come away with the third overall selection last night, as it may have kept star point guard Damian Lillard in town instead of requesting a trade. Following last year’s abysmal record and failure to reach the postseason, he made it painfully evident that he had “zero interest” in a rebuild and eluded to the prospect of skipping town if it meant competing for a championship.
While landing outside the top five or ten most likely meant a sub-par draft selection and hardly any leverage in a possible trade, their top-three pick is now premium real estate for any franchise looking to exchange established talent for a young investment of talent, enter the Chicago Bulls. With the phone lines now open in Portland as of this afternoon, Chicago should be dialing them up sooner rather than later.
What Would It Take?
While other teams will likely have the younger talent to offer, few will have a pairing of a back-to-back all-star selection and one of the game’s top stretch centers to establish a legitimate roster around Lillard that the Bulls can offer. Vucevic must be in a sign-and-trade format, while DeMar DeRozan can be dealt without stipulation. Adding those two will be the start of the deal, and throwing in the first-round pick of Portland that Chicago owns would also need in it. Exchanging some of their aging talent with expensive contracts would allow the Blazers to stay within cap restrictions for this championship window.
Portland Trail Blazers Receive: Nikola Vucevic, DeMar DeRozan, 2024 First-Round Selection (POR)
Chicago Bulls Receive: Jusuf Nurkic, Cam Reddish, 2023 First-Round Selection (POR) (Third Overall)
While this might seem like a stretch, Portland needs to trade that pick to keep Lillard moving forward, so it sways the trade leverage away from the Blazers with other franchises knowing they need to pull the trigger on a deal before draft night. This would give them an instant upgrade at center with three-point shooting abilities and two all-star appearances under his belt; Vucevic has also made it clear he will be weighing his options this offseason. DeRozan adds championship pedigree, a top-five MVP candidate a year ago, and one of the premier clutch performers in the entire Association. Add in their 2024 selection back to them, and a few cap hits returning to the Windy City. This is a win-win deal for both sides.
Would you be on board with Chicago shipping out everyone and building with Zach LaVine, Patrick Williams, Coby White, and the 3rd overall selection in this year’s draft? It might be Chicago’s final remaining lifeline before heading into the 2023-24′ season with the same lackluster roster as they did a year ago.