Approaching Draft Day, third-year Chicago Bulls forward Wendell Carter’s Jr. was surprisingly in the mix of a curious trade rumor.
The Bulls were rumored to have offered the Golden State Warriors both Carter and the fourth overall pick in exchange for the No. 2 pick in the 2020 NBA Draft. It was an intriguing trade possibility to Bulls fans, but one that didn’t seem to offer much benefit to the Warriors.
Carter shared his take on the rumor in hindsight, as the Bulls kept the fourth overall pick and drafted Florida State forward Patrick Williams.
Here’s his response in his first press briefing of the season on Wednesday:
When I first saw it, I kind of knew it was BS. I didn’t pay much attention to it. Then my family members started hitting me up about it, like, ‘Man, what’s going on?’ You going to Oakland?’ I’m, like, ‘Man, I feel like I’m good.’
I didn’t pressure the front office at all. At the end of the day, it’s a business. So if it was to go through, I mean, it’s a business. But I had a lot of faith I was going to be here. I knew the coaching staff and the front office believed in me from the talks that we’ve had. So I knew I was going to be a Bull.
It’s always a little anxiety when you see your name floating around as possibly being traded. But deep down in my heart, I knew I was going to be a Bull.
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Billy Donovan Sees Potential for Carter
Carter, the former 2018 No. 8 overall pick, has shown potential since the onset of his rookie year — specifically a 25-point, 8-rebound, 5-assist performance against the Denver Nuggets. It was one of just two games in Carter’s career where he had five or more assists — a distributive role that Donovan sees plenty of potential for the third-year big.
“Just watching him and being around him and even communicating with him, I think there’s a lot of different things he can do,” Donovan said of Carter, per NBC Sports’ Rob Schaefer. “I think he can be a facilitator for us, I think he’s got very good vision, he’s a good passer for a big man. I think, also, him being put in some situations where he can kind of stretch his range a little bit and maybe do a little bit more on the perimeter, I think that will be a big part of his growth and development as a player.”
Carter has struggled through injury and limited usage to become a consistent producer for the Bulls throughout his career. He’s shown flashes of adept ball-handling, shooting and facilitating as a big but has yet to put together a breakout season. Donovan attributed Carter’s struggles to the learning curve for bigs in the NBA.
“For frontcourt players in the NBA, a lot of times guys are dominant because of their size and strength. But because of a wider lane, bigger bodies, more experienced players it takes time for players to carve out their identity offensively,” Donovan said. “I do think that Wendell is somebody that’s very bright, he’s a smart player, he’s an unselfish player and I think he’s a guy that can make people around him better.”
Donovan Has Developed Productive Centers in the Past
While Donovan coached at Florida, he had both Al Horford and Steven Adams pass through his ranks and become viable centers in the league. Carter even received pre-draft comparisons to Horford, given both players’ uncanny ability to stretch the floor.
Carter’s potential is seemingly unbound as he’s been considered a candidate to distribute and be a threat from long-range, provide matchup nightmares on the fastbreak as a trailer and stretch the defense for an offense that will look to create space and shots.
It’s a heavy undertaking for Carter who will look to improve his game in a variety of ways, however, he has welcomed the challenge.
“I feel like everybody getting back on the court, that certain level of excitement, I feel that’s going to take us a long way,” Carter said. “After playing with most of these guys for two years now, I know what they’re good at, what they’re not good at. And I feel like Billy has kind of catered to that… That’s what’s giving me that confidence that we’re going to be really good this year.”
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