Bulls Can ‘Cross Off’ Big Man Prospect From Wishlist

Chicago Bulls

Getty Head coach Billy Donovan of the Chicago Bulls looks over at an opponent.

With the Chicago Bulls (9-11) extending head coach Billy Donovan before this season began, he is now tied to the organization presumably longer than all but Zach LaVine and Dalen Terry on the roster if not longer.

At some point, there’s a good chance Donovan will oversee another reconfiguration of this roster in his tenure. Just don’t expect that reconfiguration to include an attempted foray into the top of the NBA draft. He has already helped improve the Bulls by nine and 15 wins over his first two seasons.

The Bulls also have too talented of a roster to compete with the likes of the Detroit Pistons or Houston Rockets in the race to be worst.

And, according to one NBA executive, that doesn’t appear likely to change.

Bulls Won’t Tank

“Unless you’re winning a championship, everyone has an interest in getting [Victor] Wembanyama,” the exec told Heavy Sports’ NBA insider Sean Deveney. “But to really tank, they would have to convince Zach and DeMar DeRozan and [Nikola] Vucevic, all their veterans, to lose on purpose. That is not happening. Or they could sit all of them, but that is not happening.”

Wembanyama is the 7-foot-4 French big man that has stolen headlines a la Luka Doncic in 2018. But the top of the draft also has Scoot Henderson of the G League Ignite who some say possesses transcendent qualities similar to Ja Morant or Derrick Rose.

There is also Amen and Ausar Thompson of the Overtime Elite round out the top four.

The only way the Bulls have a shot at any of them — of their first-round pick at all this year — is if they get into the top four in the NBA Draft Lottery but they would have to concede the season.

It has already been enough of a task for the Bulls to manage LaVine through the early portion of the season as he recovers from offseason knee surgery. But both DeRozan and Vucevic have been durable since their arrival and are two of five Bulls to appear in every game this season.

The Bulls are without starting point guard Lonzo Ball until at least January and have gone with key reserves Andre Drummond and Coby White for multiple games.

That leaves few paths to keeping their best off of the floor barring something more permanent.

“They could trade them all,” the exec conceded before adding, “but that front office did not take over that team just to start rebuilding again. So you can cross out Wembanyama unless something crazy happens.”

With a team that many see as capped without some sort of drastic change, the Bulls are not likely to try to cash in their chips with a clear eye toward the future.

Watch for Win-Now Moves

Before this season began, Bulls vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas made a clear demarcation between last year’s version of success and how they would define it going forward.

While Karnisovas provided the injury caveat, his goal could still prove problematic for everyone involved.

“Donovan, along with the current Bulls roster, has a lot to prove,” writes Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic. “Both have an impenetrable ceiling. Donovan hasn’t led a team beyond the first round since Kevin Durant played in Oklahoma City. The last time the Bulls made it past the first round, Barack Obama was president.”

With the Bulls’ additional commitments to Donovan, changes to the roster could be coming.

Bulls Future Unclear

The Bulls have been a popular choice for a major mid-season change, though most suggestions are geared toward a rebuild.

Their options are limited for adding to the core group both in picks and moveable contracts

But an opportunistic front office led by Karnisovas has already pulled off several surprises since taking over. They could need one — or several — more to get themselves to the next level which for them is into the second round of the postseason.

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